Last week, Marywood University’s student newspaper reported that the faculty had taken votes of no confidence in the university’s president and its vice president of business affairs and treasurer. With 135 of the 182 eligible faculty voting, the percentages who expressed no confidence were 71 and 88, respectively.
The vote, which took place online between October 6 and October 8, came in the wake of faculty complaints about fiscal irresponsibility on the part of administrators and faculty concerns about an academic “restructuring” process. Last Monday, at the invitation of the faculty senate president, the board of trustees responded to the vote. Its members were “unanimous and steadfast in our support for our President, Sister Anne Munley IHM, and our VP for Business Affairs/Treasurer, Joseph Garvey,” but “agree[d] that some issues our faculty have raised warrant frank and meaningful dialogue.” To its credit, the board also announced the formation of a 16-member shared governance committee to be composed of 8 faculty and 8 board members.
It is of course too early to tell whether this will prove to be the step in the right direction that it appears to be. It does demonstrate, though, what can happen when an institution’s faculty speaks collectively and its governing board is willing to listen.