Faculty votes down BOV ‘no confidence’ motion

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February 28, 2008

6:35 PM

At a special meeting Thursday afternoon, the College’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted down a motion to express a vote of no confidence in the College’s Board of Visitors.

p. The ballot vote count was 93-76.

p. The resolution was introduced by anthropology Professor Brad Weiss at the faculty’s special meeting on Feb. 15, but was delayed until after last Friday’s BOV forum with staff, faculty and students.

p. Weiss argued in Thursday’s meeting that a vote of no confidence would make a strong, dissenting statement to the BOV after their Feb. 10 decision to not renew former College President Gene Nichol’s contract.

p. “The claim of no confidence is meant to register that dissent very clearly,” Weiss said.

p. Weiss also said a vote of no confidence would hold the board responsible for their promises to continue Nichol’s initiatives regarding diversity and greater access to public education.

p. Several faculty members said that they were not satisfied with last Friday’s BOV forum, which was attended by seven board members, including board Rector Michael Powell ’85, and meant to answer questions regarding the non-renewal decision.

p. “They came, but we are still not satisfied” English Professor Suzanne Hagedorn said, referring to the BOV. “Things right now are broke, badly. We have no faith in this board given their actions right now. They need to do something strong to restore our faith.”

p. Chemistry Professor Gary Defotis argued against the “no confidence” motion.

p. “This is quite unjustified,” he said. “The notion that faculty did not have input [in Nichol’s renewal decision] is absurd.”

p. Defotis said that many faculty members “don’t seem to recognize that the job of a president is an extremely complicated one.”

p. He also said that Interim President Taylor Reveley has already done a better job than Nichol in lobbying for the College in Richmond.

p. Government Professor Paul Manna questioned the usefulness of the no confidence vote, saying that it would “accomplish nothing.”

p. Manna asked the faculty if a no confidence vote would help the College move on since the non-renewal decision, and if it would harm faculty relations with the BOV and with Reveley.

p. After the motion was voted down, the faculty passed a resolution drafted by English Professor Terry Myers, which thanked Nichol for his service, acknowledged the authority of the BOV, expressed dismay that the BOV’s presidential review process did not consult more the views of faculty and expressed concern over how the College is now perceived as “susceptible to ideological and political pressure.”

p. “The Faculty calls on the Board to take action that will dissipate that perception and it requests that the search for the next President (and future evaluation procedures) involve significant representation from the students, staff, and faculty of the College,” the statement said.

p. The resolution also expressed support for Reveley.

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