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Faculty Group Holding Confidence Vote on TU Administration as 'True Commitment' Plan Moves Forward

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University of Tulsa
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Top University of Tulsa administrators are the subject of a faculty confidence vote on Wednesday.

All of TU's more than 300 full-time faculty members are eligible for the vote of confidence in President Gerard Clancy and Provost Janet Levit, held by the university's chapter of the American Association of University Professors. It will be held in the McFarlin Library atrium from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and done by secret ballot.

The vote comes after Clancy announced trustees are fully behind the sweeping True Commitment reorganization plan without tweaks professors recently proposed.

TU AAUP Vice President Matt Hindman said the non-binding vote will test Clancy’s own model of leadership.

"He suggests that 20% of people within an organization are always going to oppose change, 20% are always going to support leadership and the changes that they bring," Hindman said. "This poll will assess whether he’s actually won over that 60% that he’s claimed that he needs to win to fulfill his own standards of success."

TU AAUP President Brian Hosmer said while the vote is nonbinding, a majority of professors voting "no confidence" in Clancy and Levit would send a clear message.

"The consequences remain to be seen. I mean, I think it’s important for the president and the provost and the board of trustees to have a sense of how the faculty assesses their leadership and their performance," Hosmer said.

True Commitment would eliminate 40% of TU's degree programs and establish a business, health and law "super college." It would also funnel all incoming students through a university studies program and reconfigure academic departments as interdisciplinary divisions built around "contemporary issues."

"We understand that change is hard and respect the faculty's decision to express their views. While the vote that is expected Wednesday is nonbinding, and regardless of the outcome, we look forward to our continued work with the Faculty Senate and all faculty as we define a new sustainable path for the university," Clancy said in an emailed statement.

Hosmer said over months of discussion on True Commitment, a common question emerged.

"Seven months of probing conversations with people who oppose True Commitment, people who are lukewarm, people who support it, but really united by a question of shared governance and whether the University of Tulsa is honoring what is a fundamental principle for higher education, which is that faculty play a substantial role in governing the institution," Hosmer said.

A lack of faculty input has been one of opponents' main concerns as TU moves to implement True Commitment.

"True Commitment represents the strong work of the faculty itself. The president and the provost continue to work diligently with the Faculty Senate and those faculty willing to move the university forward, consistent with the university’s Strategic Plan and True Commitment," TU Board of Trustees Chair Fred Dorwart said in an emailed statement.

The True Commitment plan is meant to give TU long-term financial stability, and administrators say it will affect around 6% of students. Opponents of the plan, however, have also questioned whether the university is simply misallocating the money it has now and overspending on administration.

Note: KWGS is licensed by the University of Tulsa.