No-Confidence Votes

On October 6th, the UE Faculty Senate passed a resolution by which it voted no confidence in UE President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz. The resolution was passed by 13 votes to 2. The faculty then voted on that resolution and endorsed it by a margin of 89 – 34 with 5 abstentions.

On December 17th, following the release of the President’s draft academic realignment plan, the UE Faculty Senate passed a resolution by which it voted no confidence in that plan. The resolution was passed by 14 votes to 1 with 1 abstention. The faculty subsequently supported that resolution by a margin of 106 – 19 with 3 abstentions.

This page contains the full text of both of those resolutions.

October 6th Faculty Senate Resolution of No Confidence in UE President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz

Be it resolved that the Faculty Senate of the University of Evansville approves the following resolution and that, upon passage by the Senate, the resolution will be advanced for a vote of the faculty.   

The President’s Council of the University of Evansville is currently conducting a program evaluation process. To assist it in that process, the President’s Council has engaged the services of BKD Consulting. As the President explained at the September 1st Senate meeting, the President’s Council has sent BKD “a variety of data” so that BKD can “help” the President’s Council “to take a look at all the programs within the university,” including “the academic programs” and the “athletic program.” The President went on to say that, once BKD has completed its work, it will provide the President’s Council with “a variety of data points that are associated with all the programs across campus.”

At the same Senate meeting, the Senate passed a motion that “calls on the administration to include the faculty in its program evaluation process in a meaningful and substantive way.” That motion specifically requests that program evaluations

  1. Be conducted with the greatest degree of transparency possible
  2. Be based on a set of criteria to which both the faculty and the administration assent
  3. Be conducted by a group that contains members of the faculty and the administration in proportionate numbers and that includes representation from all four of university’s schools
  4. Seek to achieve financial cuts that are proportionate to the cuts in all the employment classes (e.g. Staff, Administration) and programs of the university (e.g. Athletics, Student Life, etc.)
  5. Be conducted according to a timeline that enables a full and thorough examination of each program

On being passed by the Senate, the motion containing those requests went out to the faculty, who approved it by a margin of 109-11.

In accordance with that motion, the President sent the Chair of the Faculty Senate a response on September 15th in the form of a letter. The letter was signed by the President’s Council. The final paragraph of that letter directly addresses the requests made in the Senate’s September 1st resolution:

We realize that the necessary changes will affect members of the university community profoundly, and we are committed to conducting program evaluations with the greatest degree of transparency possible. As we generate data and solicit analysis from both internal and external sources, we will consult with the faculty and discuss appropriate procedures. We will proceed with this analysis in a manner that recognizes the important nature of the decisions we make, while also recognizing that the budgetary implications require us to act expeditiously.

This paragraph explains it is the President’s Council that will evaluate the university’s academic programs. Faculty will be involved in the program evaluation process to the extent that the President’s Council “will consult with the faculty and discuss appropriate procedures.” What is conspicuous by its absence is any pledge to honor the faculty’s request that program evaluations “be conducted by a group that contains members of the faculty and the administration in proportionate numbers and that includes representation from all four of university’s schools.” The above paragraph also lacks any response to the faculty’s request that program evaluations “be based on a set of criteria to which both the faculty and the administration assent.” Furthermore, as the above paragraph contains no promise that any of BKD’s data points will at any time be shared with the faculty, its claim that the program evaluation process will be conducted “with the greatest degree of transparency possible” rings entirely hollow.

The Faculty Manual clearly explains how decisions regarding the university’s academic programs should be made:

Faculty, acting with the President, determine all matters of educational policy with respect to academic programs including degree requirements, honorary degrees, curriculum changes, academic standards.

Within the program evaluation process presently being conducted by the President’s Council, the faculty neither acts nor determines. It is merely a potential respondent to those who are actually making the decisions, the members of the President’s Council. This is a clear breach of the principles of shared governance that underpin the governance structure of the university. In consequence of this breach, the Senate has no confidence in President Pietruszkiewicz.

The Senate’s confidence in President Pietruszkiewicz will only be restored when he makes a public written commitment to all of the following:

  1. The President will release to the faculty as soon as possible all of BKD’s data points relating to academic programs and any accompanying reports. 
  2. All academic program evaluations will be conducted by a group that includes voting, faculty-elected faculty members from all four of the university’s colleges and schools.
  3. The number of faculty members in that group will be at least equal to the number of administrators.
  4. All academic program evaluations will use a set of criteria that has been approved by the Senate and the Faculty through votes.

Should this motion be approved by the faculty, the Faculty Senate requests a written response to this motion from the President within seven days of the official announcement of that approval. In the event that the President is unable to respond affirmatively to this motion, the Senate requests a full written explanation as to why.

December 17th Faculty Senate Resolution of No Confidence in UE President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz’s Draft Academic Realignment Plan

Be it resolved that the Faculty Senate of the University of Evansville approves the following resolution and that, upon passage by the Senate, the resolution will be advanced for a vote of the faculty.   

At a meeting with the faculty on Thursday, December 10th, the President unveiled an academic realignment plan that, if implemented, would lead to major curricular changes. The plan proposes the complete elimination of three departments: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Music, and Philosophy and Religion. In addition to the twelve majors within those departments, the plan lists five more majors to be cut: Art History, History, Physics, Political Science, and Spanish. Faculty members from all five of those departments would be released. The proposed curricular changes would also result in losses in the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Creative Writing and English (combined), and Math. 

From a procedural perspective, the major problem with the President’s plan is one of governance. At the December 10th meeting, the President noted several times that faculty members will be given numerous opportunities “over the course of the next couple of weeks” to provide “questions and answers and comments and recommendations.” Yet, when asked if the Faculty, the Senate or any committee thereof would ever vote on the proposed plan, the President’s entire response was: “We would love the input of the faculty in general and if it comes as individual recommendations, if it comes as group recommendations, we’re happy for all of them.” 

This response failed to recognize that, within the shared governance structure of the university, the faculty has primary responsibility over educational policy. As the Faculty Manual observes:

The responsibility of the faculty is in educational policy rather than administrative decisions. Faculty, acting with the President, determine all matters of educational policy with respect to academic programs including degree requirements, honorary degrees, curriculum changes, [and] academic standards.

The faculty’s determination of educational policy is conducted through its representative body, the Faculty Senate. Curricular changes, such as those within the President’s plan, fall within the remit of one of the Senate’s standing committees: the Curriculum Committee. That committee performs the following tasks:

The committee shall review policy and recommend changes in policy regarding all academic programs of the University to the Faculty Senate, including graduation requirements, general education, and changes in departmental offerings. 

It shall review routine proposals for changes from departments. It shall evaluate existing curricula and programs and recommend revisions to the Faculty Senate.

It shall evaluate proposed new degrees, majors, minors, degrees and certificates carrying University credit, and recommend new degrees and majors to the Faculty Senate. It shall also consider proposals for deletions of degrees and majors and recommend actions on such proposals to the Faculty Senate. (Additions or deletions of degrees and majors must also be approved by the President and the Board of Trustees.)

The last of those paragraphs clarifies the Curriculum Committee’s role in the process of degree and major deletion. This role is also recognized in the university’s Program Closure Policy:

Consistent with Article III, Section 2 (Standing Committees) of the Faculty Bylaws describing the Function of the Curriculum Committee, the Curriculum Committee “consider[s] proposals for deletions of degrees and majors and recommend[s] actions on such proposals to the Faculty Senate. (Additions or deletions of degrees and majors must also be approved by the President and the Board of Trustees.)”

The Faculty Manual is entirely consistent on the idea that proposals for curricular changes are to be reviewed by the Curriculum Committee. On completion of this review, that committee then submits its recommendations to the Senate, which may approve them, reject them or return them to the Curriculum Committee for further consideration. Any recommendations approved by the Senate that relate to the addition or deletion of degrees and majors are sent on to the President, who may approve them, reject them or return them to the Senate for further consideration. Lastly, any recommendations endorsed by the President are sent to the Board of Trustees for final approval. 

This mandated process for curricular change is absent from the current draft of the President’s academic alignment plan. For this reason, the Senate has no confidence in the current draft of the President’s academic alignment plan.

The Senate’s confidence will only be restored when the President makes a public written commitment to the following:

All proposals for curricular change within the final draft of the President’s academic alignment plan, including but not limited to all that on implementation would result in the loss of majors and/or faculty positions, will be submitted to the Curriculum Committee. That committee will vote on those proposals and then submit its recommendations to the Senate. The Senate will review those recommendations and then vote to either approve them, reject them or return them to the Curriculum Committee for further consideration. Any recommendations approved by the Senate that relate to the addition or deletion of degrees and majors will be forwarded to the President, who will approve them, reject them or return them to the Senate for further consideration. Finally, any Senate recommendations endorsed by the President will be sent to the Board of Trustees and the Board will approve them, reject them or return them to the President for further consideration.

Should this motion be approved by the faculty, the Faculty Senate requests a written response to this motion from the President within seven days of the official announcement of that approval. In the event that the President is unable to respond affirmatively to this motion, the Senate requests a full written explanation as to why.

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