Controversy: Shared governance

Kristen+Miano%2F+News+Editor%0D%0AEllen+Carnaghan%2C+professor+of+Political+Science%2C+answers+questions+from+students+at+the+Faculty+Teach-In%2C+held+on+Wed.%2C+Oct.+24%2C+in+the+Busch+Student+Center+in+an+effort+to+educate+students+on+the+recent+votes+of+no+confidence.+
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Controversy: Shared governance

Kristen Miano/ News Editor
Ellen Carnaghan, professor of Political Science, answers questions from students at the Faculty Teach-In, held on Wed., Oct. 24, in the Busch Student Center in an effort to educate students on the recent votes of no confidence.

Kristen Miano/ News Editor Ellen Carnaghan, professor of Political Science, answers questions from students at the Faculty Teach-In, held on Wed., Oct. 24, in the Busch Student Center in an effort to educate students on the recent votes of no confidence.

Kristen Miano/ News Editor Ellen Carnaghan, professor of Political Science, answers questions from students at the Faculty Teach-In, held on Wed., Oct. 24, in the Busch Student Center in an effort to educate students on the recent votes of no confidence.

Kristen Miano/ News Editor Ellen Carnaghan, professor of Political Science, answers questions from students at the Faculty Teach-In, held on Wed., Oct. 24, in the Busch Student Center in an effort to educate students on the recent votes of no confidence.

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Kristen Miano/ News Editor
Ellen Carnaghan, professor of Political Science, answers questions from students at the Faculty Teach-In, held on Wed., Oct. 24, in the Busch Student Center in an effort to educate students on the recent votes of no confidence.

Patankar defends stance, addresses growing faculty impatience 

The Faculty Council of the College of Arts and Sciences passed a vote of no confidence in Lawrence Biondi S.J., the president of Saint Louis University, in respect to his continued support and retention of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Manoj Patankar, in their meeting on Oct. 11.

“This is a highly-measured step, one that faculty have not taken lightly. After due deliberation, faculty concluded that this is a necessary action,” Jason Fritts, President of the Faculty Council, said in a press release.

The vote passed with 35 council members voting in favor, 2 against, and 1 abstaining.

The vote comes in response to Biondi’s continued defense of Patankar after bother the Faculty Council of Art and Sciences and the Faculty Senate voted no confidence in his leadership. According to the motion voted on in the Oct. 11 meeting, confidence was lost in Patankar for a variety of reasons, including the failure of shared governance in regards to the creation of new policy and a perceived failure of the Vice President to exhibit correct leadership.

“The faculty has, however, lost all confidence in the current leadership, especially that of Vice President for Academic Affairs Manoj Patankar, to reverse these trends,” the Faculty Council said in their motion. “ In fact, Dr. Patankar has contributed to the decline, harming the reputation of the university and repeatedly demonstrating a failure to understand and employ basic principles and best practices of academic leadership.”

The vote also comes in a response to the perceived damage done by plans to establish policy regarding shared governance, faculty evaluation and the terms of faculty employment, according to the press release.

The vote of no confidence by the Faculty Council means that as long as Biondi continues to support and keep Patankar in his role as the Vice President for Academic Affair, the College of Arts and Sciences has no confidence in the leadership of either party.

Since the vote was passed, the Business School Faculty Assembly unanimously passed a motion in support of the Faculty Senate’s actions. It is likely that the Faculty Senate will address the most recent vote of no confidence in their up coming meeting on Oct. 30.

On Oct. 16, Patankar issued a letter to the faculty at large calling for a return to collaborative communication, requesting that attention return to the formation of the Blue Ribbon Committee and look to creating solutions.

“I think there is a lot of misinformation out there and a lack of information,” Patankar said. “I’m not sure of all the factors that have lead to this escalations, because I’m not in the community to hear the conversations going on.”

Patankar noted that he didn’t feel the vote of no confidence against him made sense, as he not only withdrew the faculty evaluation draft, but he followed the communication model that was in place.

According to Patankar, the way the model works is that if students, faculty or staff wish to propose a concept or idea, they can bring it to him in an open forum. From there, committees are formed to create drafts and policies, which would then be sent out for feedback.

“In the case of the faculty evaluation policies, we went through all of that. We created a foundational document, then I wrote the policy. Then I took feedback from other people on the draft policy and sent it to the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate,” Patankar said. “I was supposed to get feedback, but the draft went directly to the broad faculty community. When they got the document, they didn’t have any background or history of the document.”

Patankar said he was directed to collect feedback from the deans and department chairs, but the Faculty Senate turned down the draft before feedback could properly be collected.

Based on unofficial feedback from general faculty, Patankar said he made changes to the tenure-review portion of the proposed faculty review policy, which he presented to both the Medical School and Doisy College of Nursing.

The faculty held a teach-in for students on Oct. 24 to explain why the votes of no confidence occurred. The teach-in not only explained what the vote of no confidence meant, but also explained the grievances the faculty had that motivated the vote. These included the break down of shared governance, the stagnant rankings and endowment of SLU as compared to other institutions, the low faculty morale and the apparent “culture of fear” that exists at SLU due to the lack of trust in the administration.

“We are at a historic point at SLU,” said Tim Lomperis, professor of Political Science. “With these votes of no confidence, the people of SLU are stepping out of the shadow of fear into the sunlight. The upper administration is losing its legitimacy and its right to rule. We can no longer teach with the integrity we expect to have.”

The faculty also stated that the communication model that Patankar cited was relatively unknown to students and faculty members prior to the open forum Student Government Association Meeting during which Patankar and Mark Kneupfer, president of the Faculty Senate, addressed the situation.

Faculty representatives went on to say that there was permission to distribute the draft policy to the general faculty as long as it included the word ‘draft’ on it, contrary to what Patankar has claimed.

Students are also responding to the situation. In addition to discussions by SGA, a group comprised of SLU students and alumni has been formed on Facebook.

The group, SLU students for No Confidence, is a“group of students who want their degree to matter after graduation.”

“No confidence basically means we are not confident in the SLU administration anymore,” said a spokesperson for the group. “This is a push of students and alumni to see a refocusing on our values as a Jesuit university. We don’t think the current administration is doing a good job of following the SLU mission statement.”

The group stated they are willing to work with the faculty and SGA, but they have no plans for action at this time. Their goal is to ensure that student voices are heard and provide them with the tools to do so.