AAUP Statement on FAS Vote of No Confidence
A Vote of No Confidence (VNC) in a college president is a serious step for faculty to undertake. It is an active expression of the faculty’s role in shared governance, and, although it is not a last resort, this right is usually exercised as a response to a systematic pattern of troubling conduct on the part of an administration. We have reached that point at NYU, after a decade of unilateral decision-making on the part of the president and his senior staff. This conduct is not unique to the NYU administration. The traditions of shared governance are being shredded at universities around the country. Consequently, the number of VNCs is on the rise. In New York alone, there have been recent VNCs at the New School, Pace, and CUNY-Staten Island.
NYU has always had a “top-down” culture, but under the helm of President Sexton, the rate of institutional change has been dizzying, and it has been accompanied by a rapid concentration of power upwards. Most faculty, and their departmental officers, now feel that they are in the passive position of simply responding to instructions from above. Faculty-driven initiatives are no longer taken very seriously. By contrast, the 12th floor of Bobst has assumed sole responsibility for launching initiatives that have changed the face of the university. Faculty are then invited to cooperate with, or accommodate to, them. Efforts on the part of FSC senators at reviving the attenuated practices of faculty governance have met with stiff resistance from the administration. A recent concession to adopt a resolution on shared governance proposed by the FSC 17 months ago is an encouraging sign. However, it remains to be seen whether the administration, given its longstanding indifference, is serious about honoring the principles set forth in the resolution.
Our members and our colleagues are advocates of international education, but the shape and scope of the GNU, and the way in which it is being unilaterally developed, bears little resemblance to our principles as educators. The administration has repeatedly overridden the democratic right of our graduate students to form a union, and has spent millions of tuition dollars in an effort to break that union. Most recently, administrators behind the NYU2031 expansion have been unresponsive to faculty and Greenwich Village residents who either oppose the nature of the site plan, question the need for the expansion, or are concerned about the fiscal overreach it will entail. To date, 38 departments have taken the unprecedented step of voting to oppose the 2031 plan.
For these, and other reasons too numerous to detail in this brief statement, we, as officers of the NYU-AAUP chapter, support the democratic right of faculty to take this step, and we encourage all FAS faculty to vote in the affirmative on the 13th in order to allow the VNC to proceed. We condemn as anti-democratic any efforts to block this initiative on minor procedural grounds. The faculty voice should be heard.
Andrew Ross, president
Molly Nolan, vice-president
Marie Monaco, secretary
Anna McCarthy, treasurer
Rebecca Karl, at-large executive member
Rana Jaleel, student member