This story is a follow up to last week’s report, available here.
More than 60 faculty and staff gathered on Monday to express concerns about the direction of U of L’s College of Arts and Sciences.
The meeting, which focused on faculty sharing concerns, was led by Ricky Jones, chair of the Pan-African Studies department, who last week criticized A&S administration.
The group agreed to send out surveys to faculty and staff to get feedback on options for a next step.
“I’m sad that we have to be here,” said Jones. “It’s amazing to me how many people, just to come to a meeting, are absolutley frightened.”
According to Jones, he has not heard back from any upper level administration. University spokesperson John Karman said that the university had no comment beyond last week’s statement.
“I’ve heard nothing from the President, the Provost, the COO’s office or the Dean’s office, and I know they’re all aware,” said Jones. “Poor leadership always ignores the concerns of its people until it is forced to pay attention to it.”
“I’m not going to hear anything from them, because it’s poor leadership,” he said. “They’ll wait until things are up against the wall to say anything. Good leaders don’t do that.”
Faculty at the meeting expressed a variety of concerns, ranging from criticism of A&S Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard to U of L administration. Faculty were told that their names would not be reported from the meeting without their permission.
“I want out of here. I’m fed up,” said one faculty member in attendance, who said that her entire department had been rated as proficient due to a directive from the dean. “What that meant is that our department was ranked the lowest quartile of this university, and that is bulls***.”
Jones said that as chair, he ignored the directive, thinking it was an issue of fairness.
“People deserve that. It’s a human issue,” said Jones.
Another faculty member thought the issue was with Kempf-Leonard’s fit at the college, saying she had the wrong attitude towards the A&S faculty as a self-governing body.
Jones said that a vote of no confidence is a possible course of action.
“Personnel and curriculum are the province of the faculty,” he said, expressing concern that she wanted to take that power. “I don’t think we benefit by ever ignoring that. If necessary, we have to take a vote of no confidence.”
One option that was discussed was going through department chairs to secure a vote of no confidence.
“I am not averse to getting rid of a dean, a provost, a president or all of the members of the Board of Trustees if we need to,” he said.
Nefertiti Burton, chair of the Theater Arts department, said she was concerned with the community of A&S.
“Part of good leadership has to do with building community,” she said. “New leaders have to understand the importance of community. Without it the university falls apart.”
Burton said that focusing on profit divides people in the college.
“Emphasis on budget concerns by itself cannot make the university successful. The College of Arts and Sciences could use a much stronger community.”
This is a developing story.