ST. LOUIS (KMOX)-Saying it’s concerned about the school’s future, a St. Louis University faculty group has taken an overwhelming no confidence vote against University President, the Rev. Lawrence Biondi.
The vote by the Faculty Council of the College of Arts and Sciences was 35 to 2 in favor, with one abstention.
Last month the Faculty Council and Faculty Senate overwhelmingly passed no confidence votes against the Vice President of Academic Affairs Manoj Patankar. The council vote was 35-2. The senate’s vote was 50-3.
Those votes came after Patankar proposed major changes to the University’s tenure system. Patankar has since rescinded the proposal.
Theological Studies Department Chair, Jay Hammond, tells KMOX the faculty is upset with Biondi’s support for Patankar, but even more so with the overall direction of the University, “Precisely because of the record performance with the rankings, with basically how we compare to our peer and aspiration institutions. We lag behind in almost every single category.”
In 1996, SLU was ranked 53rd by US News and World Report. In the latest rankings it’s 92nd.
Hammond says there is a pervasive lack of trust in the university’s upper administration, “As faculty we feel trapped. We feel we have an administration that really says, ‘we’ll set up a committee that will work on putting forward the strategic plan’ that was really already approved without real consent from the faculty.”
Hammond says faculty is also not allowed to talk with members of the school’s board of trustees, “There’s a blue wall at SLU with the understanding that you’re never allowed to talk to the board. So the board of trustees at St. Louis University is only allowed to talk to Fr. Biondi and the upper administration.”
Hammond says there’s also a fear of retribution, that up until now has kept the faculty from speaking out, “I believe that’s why it has taken so long for faculty to actually say anything publicly. With the debacle at the law school earlier this summer, I believe it woke a lot of faculty up saying, ‘ if that new person at the university is wiling to say what they know why shouldn’t everyone else.'”
Hammond is talking about the August resignation of Law School Dean Annette Clark, who stepped down after about a year on the job after clashing the Biondi and Patankar.
Hammond says the next no confidence vote could come later this month, when the Faculty Senate meets, “There’ll be a discussion and if a motion is put together to the senate chamber there’ll be a vote and I don’t know what that outcome is, but I do know the level of anger and the level of resolve the faculty have and to this point I do not believe Fr. Biondi has listened to it.”
A University spokesman is not commenting on the vote.