Faculty Assembly postpones vote on ‘no confidence’ resolution for two months

Jocelyn Arceo
Managing Editor

The Faculty Assembly decided to table for two months a vote of “no confidence” in the University of La Verne administration, including President Devorah Lieberman and Provost Jonathan Reed.

In the meantime, faculty leaders will attempt mediation between the faculty and administration, with a goal of developing formal and direct communication between faculty and the Board of Trustees, among other goals.

The Assembly met on Wednesday to discuss the possible “no confidence” vote following the Faculty Senate’s resolution of no confidence in University administrators last month. The Senate resolution passed with 17 votes in favor, three against and one abstention.

The Senate vote in December had followed several unsettling weeks during which faculty had become increasingly concerned about administrators’ plans for tenured faculty at the College of Law, adherence to the Faculty Handbook, and the implications for the University.

The cost-cutting decision late last year to downgrade the struggling College of Law from American Bar Association accreditation to California Bar accreditation, and the administration’s handling of that decision, was the catalyst for the Senate resolution, which also raised questions about administration’s commitment to shared governance.

Thomas Allison, assistant professor of legal studies, proposed the motion at Wednesday’s Assembly meeting to postpone the Assembly vote due to the potential consequences of voting at this point in time, as well as the fact that not all faculty members are present during the January interterm.

“I don’t think that we should take up the vote because I don’t think it should pass,” Allison said. “If it does pass, then I think that we run the risk of compromising the success of this institution even further.”

“If the resolution does not pass … then we run the risk of alienating the platform that has been created for these people amidst their negotiations,” Allison added. “If negotiations are occurring with the Board, then I think those negotiations should be permitted to play out before we say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’.”

Allison’s motion passed with 46 in favor, 27 against and six abstentions.

The Faculty Assembly will vote on a possible “no confidence” resolution in two months.

The other motion proposed and discussed pertained to a suggestion made by University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner through an open letter that the University seek out “the use of a skilled, neutral mediator that is highly trained in conflict resolution,” according to her email sent Tuesday. “There are mediation/conflict resolution organizations with experience working in higher education, including mediating difficult conversations between administration and faculty.”

This motion called for a recommendation to the Board of Trustees to implement either Wagoner’s proposal or another form of mediation between faculty and administration, and to develop a formal means of more effective communication between the Board and the faculty. This motion passed with 67 in favor, two against and six abstentions.

Reed, who attended the meeting along with Lieberman, closed out the meeting thanking the faculty for the honest and sincere discussion, while reiterating his commitment to the University’s concerns.

“I may see some things differently, but I think it’s important that we all recognize this as an opportunity to work collaboratively, to heal wounds, and to move forward,” Reed said. “I think I can speak on behalf of not only myself but the entire [President’s Executive Cabinet] that we’re committed to this, and we care deeply about our students, our faculty and about the mission of this University.”

Jocelyn Arceo can be reached at jocelyn.arceo@laverne.edu.

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