Faculty members at the University of South Carolina Upstate held a Called General Faculty Meeting Friday to discuss concerns they have with the leadership of Chancellor Tom Moore and to hear his response on the results of the Faculty Survey on Shared Governance. The survey identified concerns such as leadership making decisions that are detrimental to the institution, low morale among faculty due to ineffectual leadership and a lack of civility toward the faculty by members of the administration, and lack of transparency regarding information such as institutional planning and budgets.
An email from a group of 11 faculty members, sent just hours before Friday’s meeting, stated, “Because we believe that Upstate faces serious challenges in the next few years, many of us have felt it necessary to compel a discussion on the needs of the campus. We recognize with sadness that such a discussion is a source of discomfort; it is unpleasant for us as well. However, we believe that the good of the institution requires us to face the issues squarely and to speak truthfully.”
While a motion for a vote of no confidence was originally introduced, faculty members amended that decision and decided to delay such talks until the next General Faculty Meeting, which will be held on April 24.
“We need to think very carefully about what we are doing here today because it will have a long-lasting impact on this University,” said Dr. Angie Davis, associate professor and associate dean in the Mary Black School of Nursing at USC Upstate.
Dr. Judy Kizer, professor of psychology, made a motion to delay the vote of no confidence until the end of spring semester. “I believe that some bad decisions have been made, but I encourage you to delay this action and give Dr. Moore an opportunity to make concrete steps in reaching a mutual understanding of shared governance.”
Shared Governance provides that a University’s faculty have jurisdiction over the academic program of a college, while the administration has jurisdiction over the finances, physical plant, and operational details. This is a common factor in causing friction among faculty and administration at many colleges and universities.
In his article entitled, “Voting With No Confidence” in Inside Higher Ed, Kevin Kiley explained, “No group keeps a national record of no-confidence votes in higher education, so there is no way to know for sure whether they are on the rise. But several higher education officials say multiple factors could be contributing to what seems like an increase in the number of votes of no confidence — and a waning influence of such votes. Faculty leaders might encourage such votes because they feel like they have been shut out of other formal decision-making processes.”
Moore said that he welcomed the opportunity to find a mutual agreement on the definition of Shared Governance for USC Upstate, which many agree has been missing for quite some time.
“I have heard the concerns of the faculty and I look forward to working with all who will participate in the development of an effective, functional system of shared governance,” said Moore. “This is an opportunity for the University to come together and work for the continued advancement of USC Upstate.”
Moore pointed out that there have been many recent successes at USC Upstate.
“This fall student enrollment exceeded 5,600 for first time in history, the University received a record number of applications and acceptances, student housing reached its highest level of occupancy with 1,003 students living on campus, the freshman to sophomore retention rate for 2013-2014 rose to an all-time high, a strategic plan was adopted and is being implemented, a $2.2 million grant to serve our most at-risk students to ensure their success and retention was secured, and $100,000 have been contributed to rectifying the faculty salary compression issue.”