Faculty Senate committee formed to consider lack of confidence vote on Scarborough

Senate Chairman William Rich says decision might come in February; Burns calls it ‘not unexpected’

By Grant Morgan, Managing Editor

University President Scott Scarborough might soon receive a formal “lack of confidence” expression from the UA Faculty Senate.

How much confidence do you place in UA President Scott Scarborough?

  • Zero confidence — I worry for the future of the University. (58%, 242 Votes)
  • Some confidence — he's made some questionable decisions, but overall is moving in the right direction. (21%, 87 Votes)
  • Little confidence — I've heard some good things, but mostly bad. (9%, 37 Votes)
  • Total confidence — he is taking this University where it needs to go. (7%, 29 Votes)
  • The decisions don't really affect me; I'm indifferent. (5%, 21 Votes)

Total Voters: 416

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A resolution “to create an ad hoc committee to consider proposing a resolution expressing the Senate’s lack of confidence in President Scarborough” was passed at the Nov. 5 Faculty Senate meeting, according to Pam Schulze, Faculty Senate Executive Committee member and professor in the department of family and consumer sciences.

Schulze said UA political science professor Daniel Coffey, also a Senate Executive Committee member, proposed the motion.

William Rich, UA law professor and chairman of the Faculty Senate, said in an emailed response “the movant did not state a reason for the motion, nor was there debate on the motion.”

The “movant” is the person who proposes the motion.  

Rich added that the members of the ad hoc committee will probably be appointed by the Executive Committee sometime next week.

“My guess is that the committee will report to the Senate in time for the Senate’s February meeting, not its December meeting,” Rich wrote.  

The Faculty Senate does not meet in January.

“We acknowledge and understand that there are questions and concerns about the difficult decisions that have been made in recent months and there certainly are things that we would like to have done differently,” said UA Vice President for Advancement Larry Burns in regard to the possible lack-of-confidence resolution. “But it is unfortunate — although not unexpected — that the Faculty Senate apparently is moving down this path.”

This development comes after numerous controversial decisions were made over the past few months by the UA Board of Trustees, Scarborough and other higher administrators.

“Votes of no confidence in the administration can be prompted by a variety of circumstances,” Burns added, citing faculty discontent when “changes are made to stabilize university finances and reverse declining enrollments.” He also said votes of no confidence are “sometimes used by faculty during their collective bargaining — as is occurring now at UA — to create leverage for their negotiators.”

The Akron chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has already released results of a survey that showed nearly three-quarters of UA faculty disagree with the direction Scarborough and the Board are taking the University.

Around 80 faculty also gathered to protest last month outside of EJ Thomas Hall before Scarborough’s State of the University address. Most of those attending wore black armbands and academic regalia to signify the gravity of the situation in which they feel their voices are not being heard.

Executive Committee member Schulze said she is unsure of when such a lack-of-confidence resolution could come out of the Senate ad hoc committee.

“…this is the way governance works,” she further wrote in the email response. “Sometimes the wheels turn a little more slowly than we might like. I think it’s necessary in order to get the right result.”