Thursday, December 11, 2008

Motions from the Extraordinary Faculty Meeting

Summary of the results of the emergency meeting of senior faculty, held on December 10, 2008, from 2:00 – 4:00

In order to discuss, and respond to, the current crisis at the University, the co-chairs of the Faculty Senate called an emergency meeting of the University’s senior faculty. Due to concerns of some faculty about employment security, the chairs invited only tenured and extended-employment faculty from all divisions. A few additional senior faculty chose to attend as well.

Seventy-seven faculty members were in attendance at the start of the meeting. As the meeting went on, some faculty had to leave to teach, so that by the end of the meeting there were fifty-nine senior faculty.

Thirty-five senior faculty members came from Parsons; twenty-four came from the New School for Social Research; six from Milano; five from Lang; and five from the New School for General Studies.

The senior faculty discussed and voted on a total of five motions, the first two by secret ballot, the last three by a show of hands.

Submitted by Jim Miller and David Howell, senior co-chairs of the Faculty Senate.


First motion

The senior faculty lacks confidence in the leadership of Bob Kerrey.

Vote: 74 in favor, 2 against, 1 abstention


Second motion

The senior faculty lacks confidence in the leadership of James Murtha.

Vote: 67 in favor, 0 against, 1 abstention


Third motion

Statement of Concerns

The Senior Faculty lacks confidence in President Bob Kerrey and Executive Vice President James Murtha.

We can no longer tolerate the constant turnover of provosts – five provosts since the appointment of President Kerrey in 2001.

This turnover has made it virtually impossible for the faculty to be properly involved in thoughtful and effective academic planning; for our staffs to provide proper and consistent academic services; and for the Deans and faculty to help the Provost develop University-wide employment systems that appoint, review and promote faculty in a timely and fair manner.

There is a widespread perception that the President has allowed the Executive Vice President to frustrate and sometimes sabotage many of the academic initiatives of the Provost, Deans and faculty, as a result of which there has been a substantial reduction in the effectiveness and efficiency of all those directly involved with academic affairs.

Besides such costs, we also fear that the reputation of The New School is at risk, as is our continuing ability to recruit and retain the best candidates for top academic positions, and our future ability to recruit and retain students.

We are appalled by the abrupt and unexplained dismissal of Provost Joe Westphal, who represented a welcome transition towards better academic leadership and a greater openness in shared governance with the Deans and faculty. We reject the appropriateness of President Kerrey unilaterally appointing himself the acting Chief Academic Officer of the University for an interim period that is likely to last months if not years. In both cases, there has been no reason given why there was no prior consultation with Deans, the Faculty Senate, or senior faculty.

These events appear to be part of a larger pattern, characterized by unilateral, impulsive, and sometimes secret decision-making, concentrating power in the hands of the President and Executive Vice President, without due deliberation or proper consultation with Deans and Faculty.

The founders of the New School hoped to foster democratic ideals of governance and open inquiry. It is ironic, and deeply troubling, that Bob Kerrey and James Murtha have governed the University in a way that subverts one of its constitutive ideals.

Vote: 65 in favor, 1 abstention.


Fourth motion

The senior faculty has full confidence in all the Deans.

Vote: 65 in favor, 0 against


Fifth resolution

Given the exceptional nature of the votes we have taken today, the senior faculty strongly recommend that the divisional Deans be allowed to meet with a sub-committee of the Board of Trustees and select faculty, in order to help develop a plan for the University as it moves forward.

Vote: 59 in favor, 0 against.

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