By: Cecilia Parrish
The Faculty Senate meeting held Tues., Feb. 20 sparked debate on whether a vote of confidence should be sought over the university’s Board of Regents stemming from multiple events, the most recent being the presidential search process
Faculty spoke first, with many disagreeing about whether or not the vote should take place as well as identifying the issues that would indicate a vote of confidence should be taken.
Senator Reba Rye, associate professor of arts and Art Area Coordinator, identified a low instruction budget as the “single most important issue.” The functional expenses budget for instruction at Kentucky State has dropped 2.2 percent, with spending at 20.2 percent in June 2015 and 18 percent in June 2016. According to Inside Higher Ed, instruction fees include “faculty salaries and benefits, academic administration, and office supplies.”
Assistant professor Dr. Kenneth Andries suggested the faculty call the presidential search a failed search, claiming the issues regarding the Board don’t stem from just the presidential search, and therefore no vote of confidence should be taken.
Multiple faculty members cited a breakdown in communication between faculty, the Board, and students as a reason for a vote of confidence. Dr. Jens Hannemann, assistant professor in the Computer Science department, claimed that a confidence vote is a “brutal instrument” and that the “broken communication link between faculty, senate, and Board” needs to be fixed before any actions are taken. English professor Dr. Peter Smith said he doesn’t have confidence in the Board of Regents, but isn’t sure if a vote should be taken at this time. “There is a breakdown in communication and something needs to be done,” Smith said.
Smith also brought up the presidential survey that was circulated last November which invited faculty, students, staff, alumni and community members to share their thoughts on the presidential search and list characteristics they would like to see in the university’s president. The results of the survey were never released publicly, and no mention of the survey has been made since its inception.
“I would like to see some transparency,” Smith said regarding the board.
Students made their voices heard as well during the senate meeting. The Student Government Association voiced their concerns over not being involved with or informed of any major decisions on campus, both with the Board of Regents and the Faculty Senate. Michael Weaver, SGA Sophomore class president, said he felt that students were being ignored and “walked over” regarding decisions made at the university which directly affect them.
“Students are tired of being left out and hearing [information] through the media,” Weaver said. He added that he once trusted the university, but “recently this trust has gone missing,” and voiced his concerns over “130 years of black excellence” being “destroyed” at the university. Weaver also “invites the Board to listen to your students.”
Alexis Anderson, SGA Sophomore Senator, expressed her wish to be more involved with the Faculty Senate, saying the students “don’t really get a voice” when it comes to votes of confidence.
A vote was taken at the end of the meeting and present faculty senators agreed to take the decision regarding a vote of confidence being administered to the full faculty, with 16 yeas, three nays and 2 abstentions.
A full faculty meeting was held Mon., Feb. 27 to discuss two resolutions, one being the vote of confidence. According to Rye, the first resolution was “There should be a vote taken by the Full Faculty of confidence /no confidence on Dr. Karen Bearden as chairperson and leader of the Board of Regents.” Resolution one was voted on and passed, with 42 yea and 28 nay with 2 abstentions. The vote will occur at the Registrar’s office, with a ballot box and secret ballots, though the date has not yet been determined.
Resolution two, that “There should be a vote taken by the Full Faculty of confidence/no confidence of the KSU Board of Regents in general,” was “suspended until the registrar could contact 10 faculty members whose votes were omitted inadvertently but whose names were recorded as voted by the Vice President for Academic Affairs.” The date for this vote will be announced once these members have been contacted.