The University of Northern Iowa’s faculty issued a vote of no-confidence in the university’s president late Friday afternoon.
After nearly 90 minutes of discussion, the faculty voted 197-53 in favor of the “no-confidence” vote for UNI President Ben Allen, with four faculty members abstaining. The call for a “no-confidence” vote came after Allen announced the closure of Malcolm Price Lab School and the UNI Museum, plus cuts to athletics and other academic cuts that haven’t been revealed yet. After the vote, Faculty Chair Jim Jurgenson said there was a sense of disconnect between the administration and faculty members.
“I think that the faculty, basically, believes that the administration doesn’t have the expertise to make the decisions they’re making,” Jurgenson told reporters. “The faculty do, although they do have more personal, vested interest in what decisions are made.”
Cathy DeSoto, the chair of “United Faculty” — UNI’s faculty union, said much of the cuts over the last several years had been made in secrecy and the latest cuts were the final straw.
“There’s been, you know, I think definitely — at least the past two years if not the last three — a growing, strong frustration (in) the faculty due to top-down decision-making and a lack of communication,” DeSoto said. “You know, it’s not that faculty don’t — some of them — want to teach more classes. It’s not even that some faculty don’t want faculty assigned more classes. It’s more like the cookie-cutter approach without a lot of thought that caused a lot of problems across campus and a lot of morale issues and these kind of things could be avoided.”
A group of about 60 students showed up at the meeting to show support for President Allen. UNI junior Hannah Wilson says the administration is only doing what is best for the university’s future.
“It’s not that you either support the administration or you support the faculty,” Wilson said. “I think what really needs to come out of this is that everyone wants what’s in the best interest of UNI and people, obviously, have different opinions on what is in the best interest of the school.”
Three Republican legislators have asked the attorney general for a legal opinion as to whether the legislature needs to vote on the proposed closure. The Board of Regents approved the plan last Monday.
(Reporting by Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls)