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Monday, May 21, 2018

WSJ: Faculty No-Confidence Votes Against College Presidents Skyrocket Amidst Declining Enrollments, Budget Challenges

WSJ 2Wall Street Journal, No Confidence: College Faculties Rebel With More Votes Against Leadership:

In a sign of the changes roiling academia, faculties are voting no-confidence in university and college presidents four times more frequently than a decade ago.

Between 2013 and 2017 there were an average of 15 such votes a year, up from an annual average of three between 2000 and 2004, according to research by Sean McKinniss, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on shared governance in higher education and now works in corporate training. As part of his academic research, Mr. McKinniss tracked 184 votes of no confidence against presidents dating back to 1989 [No-Confidence Vote Database].

At different schools, the votes can be generated by a single adamant faculty member or after a committee investigation and can focus on anything from perceived financial mismanagement to leadership style.

The votes are generally held on a ballot, typically among the faculty senate but many are faculty wide. They are purely symbolic, but they frequently carry significant weight. Within a year, more than half the presidents who were the target of a vote left the institution, Mr. McKinniss found.

Behind the rancor is a competition for cash. Top tier schools continue to thrive but many universities are facing declining enrollment and public cuts in funding.

Hostilities between faculty and administrators can impugn a school’s reputation and lead to high administration turnover that can affect enrollment and ding the school’s credit rating, said Susan Fitzgerald, an associate managing director at Moody’s Investors Service. The credit-ratings firm downgraded the standing of the University of Missouri, Birmingham Southern University, Adams State University and Howard University in part because of turnover of senior management.

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Comments

Quote: Behind the rancor is a competition for cash. Top tier schools continue to thrive but many universities are facing declining enrollment and public cuts in funding.

Not just cash income, there's an intense competition over how the money is spent. Understandably, faculty want it spent on faculty while administrations want to grow their bureaucracies.

This is an academic civil war.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | May 22, 2018 7:22:07 AM