BREAKING: Professors Vote, Declare No Confidence In President Sexton

When the poll closed at 6:00pm today, professors from the College of Arts and Science were gathered in the basement of La Lanterna café on MacDougal Street, awaiting the outcome of a week-long vote of no confidence conducted by their colleagues. At 6:09pm, screams and clapping erupted from the cluster of tables they occupied: the vote had passed.

“It’s crumbling! It’s like Jenga!” shouted someone in the crowd.

Mark Crispin Miller, NYU professor and head of the group Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, announced the news: of the 682 eligible CAS professors, 569 cast their anonymous, electronic ballots, amounting to just over 83% participation. The majority of them–298 professors–voted ‘agree,’ indicating that they did did not have confidence in John Sexton in his capacity as president of the university. 224 voted in favor of the president, and 47 professors abstained from the vote. The motion of no confidence has been passed by the Faculty of Arts and Science. 

To be eligible to vote, the professors had to be tenured or tenure-track full-time faculty.

NYU’s board of trustees responded with a statement from board chair Martin Lipton an hour after the results were announced, calling them a “disappointment.” Lipton is a longtime advocate for NYU’s 2031 expansion plan:

The Board of Trustees unanimously and strongly supports President John Sexton, and believes in his strategic direction for the University.


To be sure, we are attentive to the vote by arts and science faculty, and conscious of what it says about sentiment in that school.  But we also take note of the vote of support by the Medical School faculty council; the letters of support for John from department chairs at the School of Medicine, the College of Dentistry, and the College of Nursing; the letter of support from the Alumni Association’s officers; the support for John’s leadership among the University’s deans; the popularity John enjoys among students; and the many affirmations we hear about John’s leadership from those outside the NYU community.


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

[Image via]


    Share Your Thoughts


  1. Alex Jones says

    it’s like a bunch of workers at a dildo factory holding a popularity contest for the dildo foreman. it doesn’t matter if he loses. they still make dildos, they sell more of them every year because we keep buying them. the dildo markets, not the workers, will prevail. that’s history. that’s how it works

  2. Arnold Rothberg says

    When is this site going to report real news like how the JFK assassination was orchestrated by reanimated corpses of julius and ethel rosenberg?


  3. Ernesto G. says

    This historic vote, above all else that it signifies not only for our school but for college education nationwide, is a testament to faculty democracy and the ideals and spirit of shared governance. Instead of cowering in the face of the admin’s bullying and refusing to fall for its blandishments and crocodile tears, we, individually and collectively, raised our voices and spoke truth to power on behalf of those who genuinely represent of our university — who are its very lifeblood. Not the bureaucratic brass, the cronies of the president and trustees and the overpaid talking heads that continue to threaten to take over our educational institution and cynically turn it into a corporate brand and real estate giant, but our students, our alumni and my fellow faculty. The oldest and most prominent of NYU schools, the College of Arts & Science, has now made itself heard and there’s no denying (or hiding from) the result. Of all the tenured and tenure-track faculty eligible to vote, a staggering 83.4% made their voices heard, as your article notes. Of those voting one way or another (i.e., not abstaining), 57% no longer have confidence in Sexton. Those who still support him? Less than 40%. And still — disappointingly but predictably — our president, as tone-deaf and unresponsive as ever (behavior which largely led to the extraordinary measures of a Vote of No Confidence in the first place), chose to respond with the following: “In the the past several months, there has been vigorous debate about NYU’s direction, resulting in both expressions of support – from the Medical School, from the Nursing School, from the Dental School, from the Deans of all the schools, as well today’s email to the NYU community from the Trustees – and now this expression of dissatisfaction from FAS.” First of all, the medical schools never held a faculty vote. The backing came from the schools’ admin! The College of Arts and Science most certainly DID exercise its democratic rights to assemble, debate and vote, despite all manner of obstruction thrown our way. Second, this vote was anything but an “expression of dissatisfaction.” Pres. Sexton, it was an expression of no confidence in your leadership. Nothing could be a graver indictment from your faculty. At Harvard, a few years back, it was “just the faculty of Arts & Science” too. We all know what happened to Larry Summers a few months later. And you can be sure that there will likely be more schools voting on no confidence soon across NYU. A point will come, must come, when Sexton and the trustees, whose own rapid response was verging on insulting in its high-handedness, will have to listen. As a colleague of mine aptly put it upon reading the trustees’ response, it “sounds exactly like the true voice of power, emerging from the inner boardroom sanctum.They never show their face, and they never show their hand. Now they have been forced to do so…” The light next to be shined on the darkest corners of our administration’s mismanagement is sure to be trained on them. This demand for openness and accountability — let’s start with fiscal transparency — would be a victory not only for faculty democracy but also for our students, constituting the most heavily-indebted student body of any private university in the entire nation. While Pres. Sexton’s salary (now standing in at $1.5 million) grew by an average of over 11% from 2002-10 alone, while tuition rose by 5.24% from 2002-10. And all the while, our trustees and president see fit to reward fellow administrators with the most obscenely lavish severance packages and homes? This must stop and stop now. Those of us WHO ARE NYU: Let us do everything in our power to ensure that yesterday’s VNC is but the first of many larger and more lasting victories for our university and those who have invested all they have to make it an intellectual, creative and productive community that we can all be proud of again.

  4. Matt Luk says

    I’m making this post because there’s no “Like” button for you, Justin Williams. But honestly, I wish people would cut the dramatics. Certainly, I would enjoy a high scholarship/lower tuition, but I’d hardly disagree with NYU trying to improve itself as a university.

  5. Ernesto G. says

    Hey Justin, believe me, this entire ordeal with the present administration hasn’t been good for my productivity. (Although all the effort my fellow faculty invested in finally having our concerns heard was worth the struggle — something we might disagree on, Matt, but that’s alright by me). Speaking of productivity, St. Paddy’s won’t help tomorrow either, but I can’t wait to celebrate. The faculty haven’t shown this kind of backbone and solidarity since … well, not since I’ve started teaching here. Ok, now I will shut up. Yours in struggle …

  6. Paul Rubio says

    Ernesto, thanks for highlighting exactly why nobody should put any stock in this temper tantrum. It’s amazing that you can get out of bed each morning, what with all the tyranny and oppression that you’re facing from this evil dictatorship of an administration.

    Hopefully Sexton will resign and the faculty will get to see NYU revert back to its prior glory as the Greenwich Village equivalent of Pace University. Maybe then you can start being productive again and finally finish that 400 page thesis that nobody will read.

  7. says

    Regarding NYU Florence Art & Art History Program:

    Long post from Pascuzzi on FB site:

    Thanks to all of you who have expressed your support to save art at NYU Florence. For your information, NYU has been planning to eliminate the art and art history program in Florence for several years. They first began by moving the art classes from a decent studio space to two small dorm rooms in the Villa Colletta. The rooms do not have decent light and were so small that the number of students in the art classes had to be reduced. The one storage space for the art professors next to the rooms was then taken away and made into an office for the school psychologist. This meant that all the materials and shelving had to be moved into the already cramped art rooms. Now there is no space in the rooms to even teach. The director Ellyn Toscano then began to eliminate art classes beginning with one of my sections of Renaissance Apprentice. This past February, Toscano began to call to her office all of the art and art history professors to tell them that they will not be teaching after May. She also terminated professors of film, music and creative writing – all popular professors with classes that were always filled with waiting lists.

    The reason for closing the art component was based on president Sexton and Ellyn Toscano’s idea to change NYU Florence into a political science-based program. This means that all of the studio arts classes, art history classes, music and film classes will no longer be offered. Political science is now the emphasis. No more site visits to the Uffizi to see Leonardo, no more trips to Rome to see the Sistine chapel, no more painting, or drawing or music or film classes. Students will now stay in the classroom and discuss political science while centuries of art is literally outside the door – ignored.

    No one was consulted or informed of this decision to eliminate the art component – not even the art and art professors at NYU home campus who knew nothing. This is exactly like what happened at Tisch Asia in Singapore which was closed – even though the film production curriculum there was running perfectly. What happened to Tisch Asia is now happening to Florence. Both are clear examples of Sexton’s negative impact on the study of the arts at NYU.

    This terrible decision to eliminate the art program has also put NYU Florence in direct conflict with the last will and testament of Sir Harold Acton who left the villas to NYU in 1994. In his will he stated that in order to keep the villas, NYU must maintain and develop classes in the humanities – painting, sculpture, music, theater etc. He also stated that if NYU does not maintain and develop the humanities, all of his collections and the villa La Pietra itself will be given to the Art Institute of Chicago. In firing all of the art professors, NYU has demonstrated that they are in direct violation of the will and risk losing the jewel of their overseas programs. I have been in direct contact with the director of the Art Institute of Chicago and they are monitoring the situation and wating for the right moment to act.

    Please let everyone know of this situation. President Sexton’s plan to eliminate the arts at NYU would prevent students from experiencing one of the most important and beautiful cities of art in the world – Florence. I am sorry for those students who would have wanted to come to Florence next fall to study art or art history.

    Sincerely, Dr. Alan Pascuzzi Professor of Art at NYU Florence