Following the Board’s rejection of Faculty Senate plan, President and Provost face additional uncertainty.
On Friday, Nov. 8, the University of Tulsa chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) announced it would be holding a vote of no-confidence in President Gerard Clancy and Provost Janet Levit. The vote will be held next Wednesday, Nov. 13, in the McFarlin Library atrium from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
When asked for comment, TU AAUP Vice President Dr. Matthew Hindman responded with: “Whether faculty have confidence in our administration has been the source of some debate. We need an answer to this question so that we can put this empirical question behind us and move forward.”
In an Oct. 1 interview with President Clancy and Provost Levit, the prospect of a no confidence vote was raised.
President Clancy responded, saying, “We knew True Commitment would be bold and be seen by some as not where they wanted the university to go. But I find it very necessary that this is where we need to go, and if a vote of no confidence is put forward, I understand. I believe this is the best pathway forward. We’ve gotten great input now coming from the Faculty Senate for opportunities for improvement. The board believes this is the best pathway forward.”
The potential for a no-confidence vote had been looming over the university earlier in the semester, however, attempts to prevent it culminated in the Board’s offer to allow the Faculty Senate to propose an alternative within 30 days. Although the Faculty Senate delivered a plan that fulfilled the Board’s stipulations, on Nov. 7, it was announced that True Commitment would instead be implemented as previously planned. The Board’s wholesale rejection of that proposal this past week has prompted this swift and severe response.
A vote of no-confidence has happened at the university before, although the most recent case was the Student Association voting for removal of President Bob Donaldson in the 1990s. The vote occurred as a result of “institutional stresses” and “conflicting expectations among school constituencies” regarding Donaldson’s desire to enact swift changes at TU, according to a contemporary article from The Oklahoman.
It is unclear at the time of writing what the result of the Wednesday vote will be; however, the vote’s implications are far-reaching given the emphasis that the Higher Learning Commission, the body that accredits the university places on shared governance as a fundamental pillar to a school’s accreditation.
Although the results of the vote, even if the result is no-confidence, do not represent a binding agreement, it would greatly hinder the ability of the administration to continue their current agenda, casting a shadow of illegitimacy over their actions going forward.