A faculty-wide vote of confidence at the University of Tulsa on Wednesday turned out more than three-to-one against top administrators.
The vote was 157–44 against President Gerry Clancy and 161–44 against Provost Janet Levit. The nonbinding vote came as university trustees move ahead with a sweeping reorganization plan known as True Commitment despite faculty protests they were not appropriately involved in the process.
American Association of University Professors TU Chapter Vice President Matt Hindman said he hopes the vote leads to better communication with university administrators and trustees.
"Ours is a faculty that’s very well-informed, and it’s a faculty that has some things to say about the future of higher education. We’re in this too, and we deserve to be listened to," Hindman said.
Hindman said besides concerns about the implementation of True Commitment, many faculty members believe TU spends too much on administrative costs compared to other universities and professors could be more involved in administrative decisions.
In a statement sent to faculty and staff late Wednesday, the board of trustees said it has "absolute confidence" in TU leadership and is certain faculty led the reorganization planning.
The statement also said trustees did not reject faculty proposals to tweak the True Commitment plan but referred them to the proper university channels for review.
"The board could not, and should not, accept or reject the proposals without administration input," the statement said.
TU AAUP President Brian Hosmer said while the trustees supported Clancy and Levit, they did not question the integrity of the confidence vote.
"So, as far as I’m concerned, the board agrees that this was a legitimate exercise of faculty shared governance," Hosmer said.
The university did not make anyone available for comment. In a statement, Clancy said despite dissenting views, everyone wants the best for TU.
"We all are steadfast in support of the university we cherish and the students we serve. With this foundation, I’m confident in our ability to face the tumultuous headwinds in higher education," Clancy's statement said.
The university also pointed out more than 100 of 344 eligible faculty members did not vote. Hosmer said that puts turnout at nearly 60%.
"People vote and don’t vote. People don’t vote for all kinds of reasons. That’s true for any election, although I would say that the City of Tulsa or the national political parties would be pretty happy with turnout that was anywhere near what we just received," Hosmer said.
True Commitment cuts 40 percent of TU’s degree programs, mostly in the humanities; reconfigures academic departments; and creates a business, health and law "super college."
Note: KWGS is licensed by the University of Tulsa.