Faculty Issue No Confidence Vote on Chancellor Moore, USC President Responds

April 25, 2015 at 5:53 pm

USC Upstate December Graduation 2014University of South Carolina Upstate Chancellor Tom Moore received a vote of no confidence fromfaculty, who voted by secret ballot. The vote passed 96 to 58 with nine faculty members abstaining.

“I am deeply saddened by this action,” said Moore. “I remain committed to this institution and committed to my role as its leader. In the weeks and months ahead, I hope we can come together and focus on students, building our university, addressing the challenges ahead and embracing our successes.”

Today’s faculty meeting was a follow-up to the January 16 called faculty meeting where faculty expressed to Moore concerns about his leadership and decisions, faculty morale, a perceived lack of civility toward the faculty by the administration, and wanting more information abouts institutional planning and budgets. Faculty also questioned Moore over the definition of shared governance, wanting him to find mutual agreement on the definition of the term.

“I listened to your concerns and I heard you and we took action on some very important issues,” said Moore.

The efforts Moore cited toward shared governance included the addition of the chair of Faculty Senate on the Chancellor’s Cabinet to add a faculty voice, establishing the Academic Administrative Council to remove administrative barriers and build relationships across departments and divisions, and appointing the Diversity Task Force to make recommendations regarding the Center for Women’s & Gender Studies, African American Studies and International Studies. In order to improve faculty morale, funds were appropriated to reduce faculty salary compression and inversion, and Moore secured from the USC Upstate Foundation ten $5,000 teaching and learning innovation grants that have now been awarded to faculty through their own selection process. To address budget transparency, Moore posted all budgets online and held all budget hearings in a public forum.

“I appreciate those who expressed confidence in me,” said Moore. “For those who did not, I appreciate your passion and concern for this institution and look forward to working together to move this university forward.”

For those faculty members who voted in favor of the no-confidence vote, Moore’s efforts were insufficient.

“We have raised many critical issues with Chancellor Moore,” said Dr. Lizabeth Zack, associate professor of sociology. “He has had numerous opportunities to address our concerns in a meaningful way. Faculty have turned to the vote of no confidence as a last resort for a leader who cannot lead.”

Moore pointed out that there have been many recent successes at USC Upstate.

“This fall, the University has the highest student enrollment ever, a record number of applications and acceptances were received, student housing reached its highest level of occupancy of 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, and a $2.2 million grant to serve our most at-risk students to ensure their success and retention was secured.”

A vote of no confidence is symbolic and has no legal bearing. 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.”

Statement from Wes Hickman, university spokesperson, University of South Carolina

President Harris Pastides supports the democratic process and on all of our campuses the voice of the faculty is important. Following the commencement season the president will visit Upstate to have a dialogue with faculty about future steps.

One thing is clear, like the Columbia campus and the USC system as a whole—Upstate is in the midst of a period of tremendous momentum. There are a record number of applications, the student retention rate is at an all-time high and last fall enrollment exceeded 5,600 for the first time in school history.

The type of success seen at Upstate doesn’t happen accidentally, it takes a team approach. This is an opportunity to engage in conversations and move forward in a positive way for the good of our students.