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/ May 3, 2013
BREAKING: Gallatin Professors Vote No Confidence In NYU President John Sexton

The faculty of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study voted no confidence in John Sexton’s leadership today. The measure passed with 23 votes for, 21 against, and 6 abstentions.

“A no-confidence vote is a serious matter and we do not take this step lightly,” read the faculty statement released alongside the vote. Faculty members against Sexton’s leadership felt recent administrative actions strayed away from the motto, “a private university in the public service.” The full faculty statement can be read below.

This week the Silver School of Social Work agreed to schedule a no confidence vote. Likewise, the Tisch School of the Arts plan to vote in the coming weeks on whether or not to hold a vote of no confidence.

A statement made by Martin Lipton, Chair of the Board of Trustees, reiterated the board’s confidence in Sexton’s leadership and the efforts of the board to meet with constituents. According to the statement received by NYU Local, Sexton’s leadership helped transform the university into a progressive institution.

“I am glad that many faculty members—21 of the eligible 50 full-time faculty —felt that a vote of no confidence is not called for at this time and voted against the statement,” said Dean Susanne Wofford of Gallatin. “I am sorry, however, that 23 full-time faculty at Gallatin expressed the view that they do not have confidence in the leadership of NYU.  I respect their views, but I disagree with them.”

According to Wofford, recent efforts to improve faculty governance strengthens financial aid, diversity, and academic values. “Given the support for faculty manifested during John Sexton’s tenure as President in the form of a major increase in the number of new faculty lines in core liberal arts subjects, including in the Gallatin School, I believe that his leadership has been crucial to defending and strengthening the liberal arts ideal at NYU at a time when many universities have been cutting faculty numbers, or shifting priorities toward the technical disciplines,” read a statement from Wofford.

“I trust the faculty of those schools with upcoming votes to vote their consciences and to base their decisions on the well-being of the University,” wrote Sexton in an email to university faculty yesterday. “Whatever the result, I look forward to continuing to work together.”

Full statement by the Gallatin School of Individualized Study:

We, the full-time faculty at The Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, are deeply concerned about the direction our university has taken under the leadership of President John Sexton with the support of the Board of Trustees.

As a faculty, we are committed to fulfilling the longstanding mission of New York University, best expressed in our motto, “a private university in the public service.” Central to this mission is the imperative to create a rich and vibrant intellectual community of research and teaching that serves to educate a diverse student body while also being committed to thoughtful, engaged citizenship in the city of New York and the world beyond it.

However, we are gravely concerned that this mission is in jeopardy. The university now seems committed to maximizing its expansion, both globally and locally, at the expense of its core values. Its path of expansion has sacrificed academic integrity by devaluing faculty oversight and fair employment conditions for all faculty, has sacrificed student diversity by choosing growth rather than increased financial aid, and has sacrificed good citizenship by foregoing collaborative relations with both faculty and neighbors. The fundamental reason that the university has been able to take this direction, we believe, is that a top-down management structure and style discounted the voice of the faculty in setting priorities and making decisions. A lack of transparency in decision-making, and a failure to communicate, has compounded this fundamental problem of governance, and the result is an alienated faculty, large sectors of which are angry and demoralized. Rather than a community jointly engaged in resolving differences constructively, the university’s leadership has produced polarization and rancor.

We are committed to this university and believe that this moment of crisis is an opportunity for the university community to critically reflect on our path, and to renew our historic mission to serve the public interest. This requires a more robust system of governance involving greater faculty involvement in setting priorities, a stronger commitment to student diversity through affordable education, fairer employment practices for all who work here, and more respectful university engagement both locally and globally.

A no-confidence vote is a serious matter and we do not take this step lightly. But we have no confidence in the current leadership of New York University to lead it out of this crisis and to guide it in a better direction.

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