The UNB arts faculty has passed a non-confidence motion against the senior administration, and it looks like other faculties may follow.
The arts faculty passed the motion last Thursday at their faculty council meeting.
The reasons for the motion were that the senior administration, referred to as the University Management Committee, has “mislead key stakeholders about the university’s financial situation” and they are “centralized, bureaucratic and lack transparency” and they are “sidestepping” the arts faculty’s collegial process. The motion passed with 43 for and 14 against with two abstentions.
At UNB, non-confidence motions are not binding, meaning the senior administration doesn’t need to act upon them. However, the faculty’s purpose was to send a message.
“What I think it does is it clearly articulates to the senior administration that there is a fundamental concern: that they are not representing the core values of the university,” said English department chair Jennifer Andrews, who drafted the motion. “And unless there is a very dramatic shift in behavior, we as the core providers of services are not going to feel that we are able to do our jobs.”
Recently, UNB faculties were told they would face $1.2 million in cuts for the 2014-2015 academic year. The faculties are arguing they cannot sustain any more cuts, and that university has strayed too far from its academic vision.
“It becomes very clear that departments are at the point where they are on the brink of losing accreditation, losing the abilities to deliver certain key programs whether it be graduate or undergraduate programs and the ability to serve students in the meaningful way,” Andrews said.
The business faculty also has plans to vote on a similar non-confidence motion on Friday at their faculty council meeting. Though the motion has yet to pass, many faculty members showed their lack of confidence when they walked out on vice-president academic Tony Secco when he visited their last council meeting on March 14.
“We need to make a statement. This is about the principle. This is about where UNB is going . . . We need to stop it now before it’s too late,” said associate business professor Martin Weilemaker, who sits on the university-wide academic council.
Like the arts colleagues, the business faculty wants to send a message that the senior administration has strayed too far from the university’s core academic mission. Weilemaker said other faculties plan on passing motions as well.
“A lot of good comes out of UNB . . . If we don’t make a stance now, our fear is that’s going to be lost. It’s just going to become a teaching factory,” Weilemaker said.
The university said in a statement that it disagrees with the motion, but respects faculties’ right to pass it.
“In a university community, we value academic freedom and the exchange of ideas,” the statement read. “We respect the members of the arts faculty who have put forward this motion and their right to make it, but we will have to agree to disagree on this matter.”
As more faculties are discussing passing non-confidence motions of their own, Andrews said UNB’s recent strike/lockout has presented an opportunity for the university to change.
“There is an opportunity, because of the amount of information that has come out, to really make a fundamental difference in the way that the university operates,” Andrews said.
“I would see this as a potentially really positive moment in UNB’s history, to in a sense reclaim the university for its core mission.”