Faculty Senate To Hold Vote of No Confidence

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Faculty Senate To Hold Vote of No Confidence

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By Theresa Schliep

Fordham’s administration wants to change faculty health care to a less generous plan. It has also, according to the Faculty Senate, imposed unapproved wage increases on the faculty. And it is trying to prevent adjunct faculty from forming a union because of the university’s religious affiliation.

As a result, the faculty will hold a vote of no confidence in Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, a vote that is “largely symbolic,” as any change would require an action on behalf of the Board of Trustees, said Andrew Clark, chair of the Faculty Salary and Benefits Committee, in an email interview with The Fordham Ram.

“Votes of no confidence ‘traditionally’ result in change at other institutions,” said Clark.

Robert D. Daleo, GSB ’72, chair of the Board of Trustees, said the Board of Trustees continues to supports both McShane and other “senior leadership” at the university. In a statement Bob Howe, director of communications for the university, gave to The Fordham Ram, Daleo said McShane’s leadership since his arrival at Fordham in 2003 does not justify the Faculty Senate’s decision.

“The Faculty Senate’s decision to hold a vote of no confidence in Father McShane has inappropriately personalized what should be a professional conversation among the administration’s negotiators and the members of the Senate’s Salary and Benefits Committee,” said which Bob Howe, communications director of the university in statement, provided to The Fordham Ram...“It is also not justified by his track record at Fordham”

The Faculty Senate will vote on April 19, a day before the Board of Trustees will convene to decide the 2017-18 budget. The budget includes health care and salary determinations.
Clark said the faculty has tried working with the university in negotiations

“We have continued to bargain in good faith but there comes a point when the repeated moves by the University create a situation in which the faculty increasingly have no confidence in the leadership,” said Clark.

One reason the Faculty Senate decided to hold a vote is because of recent health care negotiations. Clark said the administration, in attempting to scale back the faculty’s health care, violated their contract that they “believed was a contract that carried us through 2019 at the very least.”

“It appears we can have no faith, trust and confidence in the contracts and deals made with the administration,” said Clark.

Clark also attributed their decision to hold a vote of no confidence to the administration’s move to attempt to block adjunct faculty from unionizing. In doing so, the university is not acting in accordance with its Jesuit Catholic values.

“Fordham has also shown that its interest in social justice and caring for others doesn’t extend to those academic workers at the institution who are the most marginalized and have the least rights,” said Clark. “They have done so even though other peer and aspirant Jesuit institutions like Georgetown have not stood in the path of unionization of their contingent faculty and have worked to improve their working conditions.”

Daleo said that faculty salaries and total compensation have increased, as evidenced by the American Association for University Professors’ annual compensation survey that released today. The AAUP found Fordham’s associate and assistant professors make more than those professors at some peer institutions, such as Syracuse and Villanova. The AAUP survey did not provide data on adjunct professors.

Howe said last week the NLRB’s precedent allowing adjunct faculty to unionize may violate its First Amendment rights. He also said the Supreme Court determined in the 1979 ruling of NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago that the NLRB does not have jurisdiction over religiously-affiliated institutions, as it comes to labor-management.

Other universities have passed votes of no-confidence. In 2013, New York University’s (NYU) Faculty of Arts and Sciences passed a vote of no confidence in John Sexton, NYU’s president. This March, tenured professors at Loyola University Chicago also passed a vote of no confidence in Terri Piggott, dean of the university.

Clark said the decision to hold a vote next week did not come easy.
“The faculty love this institution and certainly have no desire to see it damaged,” said Clark. “But the frustration among faculty and lack of morale are at an all-time high.”

Below is the entire Statement provided by Howe.

“The Faculty Senate’s decision to hold a vote of no confidence in Father McShane has inappropriately personalized what should be a professional conversation among the administration’s negotiators and the members of the Senate’s Salary and Benefits Committee. It is also not justified by his track record at Fordham.

In the last 14 years, Father McShane has overseen the raising of $640 million to strengthen the University and its programs, including an increase in Fordham’s endowment of $430 million. Under his leadership, Fordham has also built $600 million in new facilities (including much of the Lincoln Center Master Plan).

Since 2003, we have added 48 endowed professorships to the faculty, with four more coming this summer, for a total of 71 endowed professorships. Fordham has seen the applicant pool grow continuously in the last 14 years, including a much greater number of students from across the country and around the world. At the same time, the SAT scores of entering classes have increased by 117 points. Father McShane introduced a 3-2 teaching load to support faculty research, and created special endowments to support faculty.

Faculty salaries, and total compensation (salary and benefits), have gone up continuously under Father McShane. In fact the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) released its annual compensation survey today, and as in years past, Fordham compares very favorably with other institutions, this year coming in among the top 10 percent in all faculty ranks in total compensation. To see how we compare to our peer schools, see the attached chart.

On Father McShane’s watch, Fordham built new residence halls at Rose Hill and Lincoln Center, and expanded the Gabelli School’s undergraduate programs to the Lincoln Center campus. Since 2003, Fordham has increased the amount of financial aid available to students by $110 million or 346 percent.

For these reasons and more, the Board of Trustees fully supports Father McShane and the senior leadership of the University. Furthermore, we have asked the administration to present a balanced budget to the Board by its April meeting that takes into account all of the urgent needs of the University, and which contains health insurance costs at a sustainable level.”

Robert D. Daleo, GSB ’72, Chair

Fordham University Board of Trustees
Correction: April 12, 2017
An earlier version of this article said McShane’s first year as president was 2013. His first year as president was 2003, not 2013.