50 of 57 cast ‘yay’ vote on No Confidence

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50 of 57 cast ‘yay’ vote on No Confidence

John Schuler/ Photo Editor

John Schuler/ Photo Editor

John Schuler/ Photo Editor

John Schuler/ Photo Editor

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In the Faculty Senate Meeting on Sept. 25, the Senate took a vote on their confidence in the ability of Manoj Patankar, Vice President of Academic Affairs, to serve in his role. By a vote of 50 to 3, with four senators abstaining, the Senate took a vote of no confidence against Patankar.

John Schuler/ Photo Editor

“After careful deliberation and with full understanding of the gravity of its actions, the Faculty Senate has voted no confidence in the leadership of the current Vice President for Academic Affairs and requests that the President begin the process of selecting a successor and carrying out an orderly transition in that position, “the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate stated in a letter sent to Saint Louis University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J. on Sept. 26.

The primary reasons cited by the Faculty Senate for the vote of no confidence included the proposed faculty review policies which violated the Faculty Manual; the evaluation procedures used to evaluate the College of Education and Public Service; inadequate response and leadership to issues remaining after the reorganization of the Graduate School; the complex procedures to gain approval for administrative activities such as hiring and sabbaticals; and a lack of consideration for faculty input and poor collaboration on various matters, including the role and the goals of the Strategic Plan.

The letter also said that should the University begin a search for a new leader for the Office of Academic Affairs, the Faculty Senate would be willing to work in collaboration to achieve the best possible outcome in an effort to promote the success of the University.

During the Faculty Senate meeting, senators voiced their concerns with Patankar’s leadership and his collaboration with the faculty. Senators also worried about possible damage not only to faculty morale but the ability of the University to attract and retain effective professors.

This vote comes after the College of Arts and Sciences Council voted no confidence in Patankar on Sept. 18. The council then brought the vote to the Faculty Senate, which conducted the vote after some deliberation. The council also sent some comments and feedback to the Office of the President, expressing their concerns and reasons for their actions.

On Sept. 24, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Thomas Brouster, released a letter to all faculty, staff and students stating that at the Sept. 22 meeting of the Board, the Trustees unanimously affirmed their confidence not only in the President and his Vice Presidents, but also affirmed their approval of the University’s strategic planning efforts and its goal to become a top-50 school.

“In advancing the University’s efforts for excellence, the Board of Trustees further stated its support of the September 14, 2012 agreement of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, the Academic Deans, the Vice Presidents and the President to proceed with meaningful and continuous faculty development within the context of a collaborative process and implementation in order to continue to advance the University,” the letter from  Brouster stated.

According to Clayton Berry, Assistant Vice President for Communications, the administration was disappointed by the vote.

“We believe we have acted reasonably and collaboratively in responding to the faculty’s concerns,” Berry said. “We don’t believe the vote was warranted.”

Berry further noted that the University’s Board of Trustees has expressed its support for Biondi and all of SLU’s vice presidents. He added that Patankar will continue to work on the University’s strategic planning process, while seeking ongoing collaboration with deans, academic department chairs and members of the faculty.

“I don’t think you can doubt Dr. Patankar’s commitment to the institution and to moving the university forward,” Berry said. “He remains committed to working with the faculty and the Faculty Senate in a collaborative way.”

The Faculty Senate asked that Biondi respond to their letter by Oct. 2.