Professors Criticize Sexton’s Leadership

Tired of us talking about the no-confidence vote against John Sexton yet?

Well you shouldn’t be! Just this week, the Faculty of Arts and Science cast their ballots for the vote of no confidence against Sexton. But nonetheless, you probably are. So why not let professors take the reins to describe why the vote of no confidence is taking place and how they feel the action will affect the university. While all votes will remain secret, some professors willingly express their opinions.

Yesterday we reported the perspectives of professors who support the university president, so today let’s look at the other side, those who criticize Sexton’s leadership.

Adam Becker, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Classics

“Whenever we suggest that the university is going in the wrong direction, that the quality of education at NYU (the NYU in New York City!, I mean) is being diminished, that the global network is a fiasco and a distraction from the actual education of our students, or that many of us did not ask to be part of a franchise university spreading around the world while it spreads itself over the rest of the Village a common response I have heard is that the ship has left and we need to acquiesce. All we can do now, according to this argument, is help guide the ship on its course (while the captain and his first mates rob the high-paying passengers). Well perhaps this vote will be part of the process of calling the ship back to port so we can find a new captain and collectively as a university figure out where it is we actually want to go.”

Becker clarified that while only the Faculty of Arts and Science will be voting, membership of Faculty Against the Sexton Plan extends beyond this college. The photo above, originally featured in Sunday’s New York Times, includes faculty from throughout the university.

Rebecca Karl, Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, History

“I have been very much in the forefront of organizing for this vote and publicizing to the faculty my own sense of the extreme problems with John Sexton’s leadership, his ‘team’, and the direction he is currently steering the University. Whatever the outcome of the vote, I think by calling for it and implementing it, the FAS faculty has seized back some of the responsibility for governance that had been seriously eroded since Sexton’s appointment as President in 2001 and his ascension to the Presidency in 2002. This can only be a good thing.”

Karl specified:

“Extreme problems include: the lack of intellectual or academic oversight on the various expansions, local and global; the real estate over-reach; the undermining of the tenured professoriate in favor of a “flexible” workforce of adjuncts and contract faculty, in New York and globally, paid relatively little and with no job security, few if any benefits, and no guarantees for freedom of speech (which come through tenure only); the erosion of faculty governance and critical participation in the affairs of the University (now being rectified by and through the organizing and holding of the VNC); the tone deafness among Sexton and his ‘team’ to the real concerns of the faculty, even of those who ostensibly support him; the exponential increase in student loan burdens in addition to hierarchies of opportunity for students structured through ability to pay (pay to play, it could be called); and a host of other issues.

The consequences of the vote are that the faculty is energized, vigilant, and now far more involved than ever before.  Win or lose the actual vote, that is a good thing.”

Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, President of the NYU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors

“I see the VNC* as the beginning of a process. NYU needs to become a more open university. Transparency is desperately needed in its financial affairs–student have a right to know where their tuition dollars are going–and also in its decision-making. Shared governance needs to be restored, so that faculty are properly exercising their right to determine academic affairs. The VNC is just the first step.”

Follow all of NYU Local’s Vote of No Confidence coverage here.

*Vote of No Confidence

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  1. Nick Wolf says

    It is really great to see you all doing so much coverage. I regret not doing more when I was a student to be involved with the long term planning of NYU, so I applaud these people now. Whether you think these faculty are right or wrong, it is good that they are forcing their voices through.

  2. Paul Rubio says

    “Whenever we suggest that the university is going in the wrong direction, that the quality of education at NYU (the NYU in New York City!, I mean) is being diminished, that the global network is a fiasco and a distraction from the actual education of our students, or that many of us did not ask to be part of a franchise university spreading around the world while it spreads itself over the rest of the Village a common response I have heard is that the ship has left and we need to acquiesce. All we can do now, according to this argument, is help guide the ship on its course (while the captain and his first mates rob the high-paying passengers). Well perhaps this vote will be part of the process of calling the ship back to port so we can find a new captain and collectively as a university figure out where it is we actually want to go.”

    Adam Becker, Associate Professor of Horrible Analogies, Stephanie Meyer Chair of Terrible Writing