A Pennsylvania university might be added to the surge in ‘no confidence votes’
According to a report by Times Higher Education, in 2021, “fewer than 24 U.S. higher education institutions cast a no-confidence vote questioning its leadership
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In the last two years, there has been an apparent increase in no-confidence votes questioning the leadership of higher education institutions.
Times Higher Education reports that in 2021, “fewer than 24 U.S. Higher education institutions” cast a vote. Last year, Piedmont University, Sonoma University, California State University at Los Angeles, and the University of Illinois at Springfield, to name a few, passed votes of no confidence.
This year, higher education institutions are questioning their leadership, with some already placing a new acting president to continue to uphold the institution’s mission.
What is a ‘no confidence’ vote?
A vote of no confidence is a vote in which members of a group (faculty, in most cases), indicate disapproval and no longer support a leader, government, etc. This vote does not remove a person from a position but allows the person in question to know the members of the institutions no longer deemed this person fit for the position.
Temple University considers a no-confidence vote
The last few months have been challenging for the Temple University (TU) community. The ongoing unrest of the Temple University Graduate Students Association (TUGSA), which has been trying to negotiate with TU but has not reached a compromise, escalated after the administration canceled tuition and healthcare benefits for striking graduate students.
After receiving criticism from major news outlets—the administration has reinstated insurance benefits. However, many still question the university leadership, particularly President Jason Wingard’s ability to make the best decisions for students and faculty—especially after an increase in crime around campus and the fatal shooting of a TU Police Officer last month.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that TU’s faculty union has not reached a consensus on whether to proceed with a vote of no confidence, citing “the union has never taken a no-confidence vote in a president in its 50-year history.”
Colleges and Universities with a no-confidence vote
On March 8th, the Connecticut College faculty members voted no confidence in President Katherine Bergeron. The College Voice reported that “approximately 149 faculty members voted,” and “11 expressed confidence and 8 abstained.” The faculty of Connecticut College draft resolution states, “[we] call upon the Board of Trustees to provide a prompt announcement of President Katherine Bergeron's transition from office and the immediate appointment of an acting president.” The demand for a new acting president comes over a controversial fundraiser in Florida— “the venue has a history of racial discrimination and antisemitism,” reported Inside Higher ED.
Jackson State University
In January, Thomas Hudson, former President of Jackson State University (JSU) received a “no-confidence” vote from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.
“We understand that a vote of ‘no confidence’ does not remove a person from their position. However, it delivers a clear and strong message to the Board of Trustees... that there are serious issues regarding effective leadership at Jackson State University,” the resolution stated.
Thomas Hudson's tenure was paused and placed on administrative leave with pay on March 2nd. Mississippi Today reports that Elayne Hayes-Anthony has temporarily replaced Hudson, but “if Hayes-Anthony ultimately replaces Hudson, it would be the third time the IHL board has passed on a national search to select Jackson State’s president.”
Mesalands Community College
According to a report last month, Mesalands Community College unanimously passed a vote of no confidence against President Gregg Busch for overspending and the lack of oversight. The Quay County Sun reported a list of alleged misconduct by Busch. The college has since temporarily placed Dr. Allen Moss as the acting President during a Board of Trustees meeting in February.
Monroe County Community College
Monroe County Community College faculty presented a resolution of no confidence to the Board of Trustees at the beginning of the year. On the same day, charges against the administration were filed with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Employment Relations Commission for unfair labor practices.
The Monroe News reports “the resolution places the blame” on MCCC’s President Kojo Quarterly and adds that “a continuation of the status quo will undermine student learning conditions, employee morale, and the reputation of the college.”
North Idaho College
In January, Inside Higher ED reported that the North Idaho College Board of Trustees “held four meetings, admitted three violations of open meetings laws, faced two lawsuits, and named a new interim president after abruptly placing President Nick Swayne on administrative leave.” However, the successor turned down the offer. Inside Higher ED further reports it is unclear why Swayne was placed on administrative leave, especially after it “was arranged shortly after Swayne questioned board actions at its regularly scheduled meetings.”
However, the issues with the college began in 2020, “after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, the school’s diversity council issued a statement expressing support for social justice demonstrations, including Black Lives Matter protests. The statement caught the attention of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee,” the New York Times reports.
The college is facing accreditations concerns and several lawsuits.
Pueblo Community College
Pueblo Community College faculty cite “the institution is declining” under President Patty Erjavec’s leadership, as reported by KRDO. After a vote of no-confidence the Colorado Community College System’s Chancellor, Joe Garcia, received notice. Only 95 out of 490 eligible faculty voted—with 95 representing the majority of full-time staff at the college.
The three main reasons for the “vote of no confidence:” were pervasive hostility, retaliation, and interpersonal abuse with faculty and staff.
Vermont State University
Votes of no confidence were issued by three faculty and staff unions at Vermont State University last month, over outcry “plans to reform campus libraries and athletics.” The unions represent more than 1,000 full-time and part-time faculty and staff. However, the administration has not indicated any changes to its plans.
Northeastern Illinois University
Northeastern Illinois University board outs president—the university has experienced significant budget cuts after “having lost half of the 11,580 students it had a decade ago,” reported Chicago Business. However, the university replaced four of its previous board members, and one quit out of frustration.
“Sharon Hahs, Northeastern's then-president, told Crain's at the time that she advised trustees to delay a search for her successor until the state had a full-year budget,” Chicago Business reports.