This is the first regularly scheduled public meeting the BOT has had since the faculty delivered an overwhelming vote of no confidence in President Bellanca’s leadership. It is clear to most of us from your prepared response to the vote that you saw the vote as insignificant. You took less than 1/2 hour to issue your public response. 84% of the full time faculty participated in the vote. 84%. That’s a higher participation rate than we have had in any faculty vote within the last decade.
No amount of spinning the press to make this seem like a few faculty are upset about change is going to make the problems facing this college go away. Last Wednesday, President Bellanca invited me and my team to what she described as a sort of budget review. I knew that department chairs and deans were concerned as they lacked a clear sense of what cuts and changes are forthcoming for their areas. Normally, by this point in the academic year, deans and chairs know what funds they will be able to count on as we all prepare for next year’s students. On very short notice, I was able to bring together some faculty members, a few of whom were department chairs, and as the two BOT members who attended know, we all watched a brief slideshow presenting the 5th iteration this year’s budget in general terms. As a gesture of openness, this works fine – but it doesn’t make up for excluding department chairs and deans from the conversation about the requests they made earlier this semester. It doesn’t make up for creating an atmosphere of secrecy around financial decisions facing the college. It doesn’t create a collaborative environment where faculty plans and concerns are integrally included in decision making.
I know that this is, no doubt, the most difficult time you have ever faced in your responsibility as a sworn trustee to this college. I also know that many faculty are losing faith in you as a board. Please don’t continue down this path. It is time for you to step up.
The fact of the matter is that the ONLY stability this institution has right now is the faculty. We need you to fix this state of affairs and we need you to fix it now. We are down 4 academic deans. The president’s search for a new Vice President for Instruction has failed. We’ve lost our Vice President of Advancement, Wendy Lawson who has been absolutely central to fundraising for our students within our community. How many more good employees have to leave? How many more decades of knowledge, leadership, commitment, talent and skill that have been cultivated here and have been critical to student access to education will be allowed to bleed from this Institution before it gets your attention and is stopped? We are in crisis, here.
The faculty know that and we are ready to work with you the board to get our institution back on track. Please don’t continue to ignore the issues we face. The college’s problems grow deeper and more complex with each passing month. Now is the time for change. The faculty are paying attention to what’s happening here. We’re not going away. We’re not going to quiet down. We are however going to continue to call your attention to decisions that adversely affect our students and to hold you, the board, accountable for the further heath of our institution.