More communication promised after ‘no confidence’ vote

view of east campus

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services

After several hours of discussion Thursday, the UIC Senate voted 44-9 in favor of a resolution of no confidence in the leadership of Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares.

After the vote, Allen-Meares and University of Illinois President Robert Easter affirmed their commitment to shared governance and pledged greater communication with faculty.

“Although I am disappointed by the senate resolution, I have full confidence in the UIC faculty and respect the concerns its members may express,” Allen-Meares said in an official email Friday.

“During the completion of my term as chancellor, I will remain committed to the principles of shared governance and to communicating with and consulting the appropriate representatives of the campus community.”

In a separate official email Friday, Easter said, “In light of concerns that have been raised, I will be personally engaged with the UIC Senate, along with my traditional consultation with the University Senates Conference, and will ask for the opportunity to meet regularly with the campus senate’s executive committee.”

The special senate meeting was called in response to recent changes in top campus administration that faculty said were made without their input.

“Shared governance requires both appropriate consultation before important decisions are made and prompt and informative communication regarding those decisions,” the resolution read.

“These actions have caused serious damage to the campus community’s trust in the administration’s commitment to shared governance.”

Faculty expressed concerns about leadership changes made while searches are under way for both chancellor and university president. Allen-Meares’ contract ends Jan. 15.

Last month, separate official emails announced that Lon Kaufman, vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, and Bette Bottoms, vice provost for undergraduate affairs, had stepped down from their positions. A later email announced Kaufman’s new position as university assistant vice president for corporate and community relations in health affairs.

The lack of information surrounding these changes led to rumors and a demoralizing effect on campus, said Catherine Vincent, chair of the senate executive committee, at the meeting.

Allen-Meares told the group that decisions regarding Kaufman and Bottoms were made in consultation with Easter and university trustees. She said the delay in notifying the campus was “due to the confidential nature of personnel discussions.”

Some speakers at the meeting said a vote of no confidence might have a negative effect on perceptions of UIC by donors, lawmakers and candidates for chancellor. Others disagreed, saying shared governance was an important issue and students benefit when faculty members take action.

“The idea that we should protect our reputation by shutting up is fundamentally not wise,” said Hannah Higgins, professor of art history.