By Phillip Lentsch–
U of L’s faculty senate will poll senators further to determine their stance on a vote of no-confidence. The decision came during a tense discussion on President James Ramsey’s leadership.
Multiple news crews, including WAVE 3, WHAS, WDRB, Insider Louisville and The Courier Journal were in attendance – much to the chagrin of several faculty senators.
“I don’t feel particularly comfortable because of all the cameras here,” Senator Terri Holtze said. “It’s hard to speak on things this controversial in front of the press, but I want to say what’s on my mind.”
Despite the strained environment of the meeting, it was open for the university community. Many faculty senators shared their thoughts on the Ramsey vote, which looms on April 20.
At the beginning of the meeting, unit senators presented poll results to senate chair Pam Feldhoff. While each unit was allowed to gather their constituents’ opinions however they pleased, most schools presented results they got from surveys.
Here are the survey results from each school/department:
–Arts & Sciences: David Owen, a senator representing the humanities division of A&S, said that 78 percent of faculty polled supported a vote of no-confidence in Ramsey. For social sciences, 82 percent supported no-confidence. Natural sciences didn’t have a clear percentage to report, but David Schultz from the biology department said the 16 to 20 percent response rate was evenly split. Collectively, A&S had about a 45 percent response rate.
–College of Business: Rob Barker said there was about a 64 percent turnout, with 64 percent supporting a vote of no-confidence and 30 percent opposed.
–The School of Dentistry: Their senator refused to share the results, saying he only wished to convey the numbers to Feldhoff.
–Speed School: Roger Bradshaw reported only tenured faculty were surveyed, and the response rate reached around 60 percent. A quarter supported a vote of no-confidence, with Bradshaw mentioning that comments made within his department were overwhelmingly positive in support of Ramsey.
–The School of Law: Representatives recorded 17 total votes to their poll, with 68 percent supporting a vote of no-confidence.
–Library: The library faculty senator, Terri Holtze, reported a 76 percent response rate to their poll. Over half supported a vote of no-confidence, while 18 percent opposed it.
–The School of Music: Krista Wallace-Boaz reported they did not have a written count or vote, and instead wished to have a discussion with more faculty on Ramsey’s leadership. She also expressed her grievances with the polling methods designed by the faculty senate.
–The School of Nursing: Representatives reported a 72 percent response rate to their survey, with 64 percent supporting a no-confidence vote.
–Part-time faculty: The faculty senator for part-time U of L employees also spoke up in the meeting, but did not have any permanent data to present to the senate. She said because part-time faculty stretches across all schools and departments, she relied on the poll sent through A&S that differentiated for part-time faculty. She concluded about an 18 to 20 percent response rate, with 75 percent of part-time faculty supporting a vote of no-confidence.
–The School of Public Health: Scott LaJoie reported a 52 percent response rate, with 41 percent of faculty supporting a vote of no-confidence, 55 percent opposed, and 5 percent abstaining.
–The College of Education: Thomas Simmons reported a response rate of 60 percent, with 60 percent of faculty supporting a vote of no-confidence.
Various branches within the School of Medicine and the Kent School of Social Work have not turned in information. Feldhoff feels as though despite not having every school’s collective data, she is in a much better position to make an informed decision for the upcoming Board of Trustees vote on April 20.
“Just to be clear, we aren’t voting on whether we think the allegations brought forth against Ramsey are true or not,” Feldhoff said. “We’re representing ourselves and our constituents as elected officials on the faculty senate.”
Discussion then turned to the option of creating a poll for senators to help inform Feldhoff. Owen thought something like this would be necessary, due to the climate surrounding U of L.
“We’re talking about a question of Ramsey’s leadership,” Owen said. “The majority of A&S does not have confidence in him, and we deserve a better leader after facing the challenge of Bevin’s budget cuts. I want to represent my constituents based on the information that I’ve received from these polls.”
Other faculty senate members felt more surveys would complicate things. Speed School Senator Roger Bradshaw said that he was uncertain of U of L’s future if Ramsey were to be booted out at the conclusion of this academic year.
“The biggest concern I have is what are we going to do next,” Bradshaw asked. “These scandals could have happened under any president.”
Owen disagreed, saying it was the job of the faculty senate and the board of trustees to have these discussions and hold U of L’s administration accountable.
“We are the representative body for the faculty at this university, and we have a responsibility for shared governance,” Owen said. “We need to take up these questions when they become relevant to our campus community.”
Enid Trucios-Haynes from the Law School also spoke up about a survey specifically for the faculty senate, mirroring much of Owen’s comments.
“Right now, we are caught in a swirl of everything that’s going on with this university. It’s hard for us to not have a discussion based on this, because it’s very important,” Trucios-Haynes said. “We are all people of integrity, and when we’re polled, we will vote based on the information we’ve been given.”
Feldhoff said the answers from the poll would remain anonymous, and that the results would be presented as a representation of the faculty senate as a whole. The poll is in the making and will be released in the coming weeks.
Feldhoff said Ramsey was invited to the meeting, but was out of town.
“Ramsey has been a staunch supporter of faculty,” U of L Spokesperson John Karman said “Through 15 budget cuts, U of L has had no campus-wide layoffs or furloughs. He has worked to raise the research profile of the university and has raised a tremendous amount of money for research, endowed chairs and endowed professorships. The campus is transformed under his leadership, making it a better place for faculty to work.”
Full disclosure: Rob Barker, mentioned in this story, is a member of the Cardinal’s Board of Directors.
Photos by Sarah Rohleder / The Louisville Cardinal