Arts & Sciences Faculty Council votes No Confidence in Biondi with respect to retention of Patankar

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The following is a press release sent out by the President of Faculty Council of the College of Arts and Sciences, Jason Fritts. For more extensive coverage of the vote, see the upcoming issue of The University News on Oct. 25.


Jason Fritts, President of Faculty Council of the College of Arts and Sciences, Saint Louis University

Contact #: 314-977-7001

[email protected]


On Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 the Faculty Council of the College of Arts and Sciences of Saint Louis University passed a vote of no confidence in the President of the university, Fr. Lawrence Biondi on the grounds that Biondi has continued to express his full support and confidence in Vice President of Academic Affairs Manoj Patankar despite overwhelming no confidence votes in the Faculty Council and the Faculty Senate.  The vote was 35 in favor, 2 against, with 1 abstention. “We are extremely saddened that the President has allowed it to come to this,” said Jay Hammond, Associate Professor and Chair of the Theological Studies department.  Added Jason Fritts, President of the Faculty Council, “This is a highly measured step, one that faculty have not taken lightly.  After due deliberation faculty have concluded that it is the necessary action. “

Votes of no confidence in Patankar were passed last month by both the Faculty Council (35-2) and the Faculty Senate of the university as a whole (50-3), in response to the damage done by a plan that he announced to effect sweeping changes to established policy regarding shared governance, faculty evaluation and the terms of faculty employment. “On rare occasions, it is the responsibility of the faculty to call the administration into account when they judge that its actions are harmful to the university,” said Tim Lomperis, professor of Political Science.

The plan, which would have abolished tenure, instituted a punitive annual-review process and assigned all university faculty a numerical rating, drew immediate expressions of alarm in the Chronicle of Higher Education and from the American Association of University Professors.  Steve Harris, Mathematics professor and interim president of the newly formed SLU chapter of the AAUP called the policies a “micro-managerial assault upon the internal functioning of the university, wholly out of keeping both with the norms of the academy and the legal requirements of the Faculty Manual.”

Patankar subsequently withdrew the plan, but President Biondi has defended his vision and leadership, and publicly dismissed the overwhelming votes of no confidence.  In the past decade, the university has dropped in the US News and World Report rankings from 77 to 92, the largest drop of any school in the top 100 in this period.  In 1996, SLU’s ranking was 53.  President Biondi marked 25 years as president of SLU this year. “Ultimately,” said Theological Studies Chair Hammond, “it is our concern for the decline in SLU’s reputation that has led faculty to take this step.”

Attached here is a copy of the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Council’s Oct. 11 motion.