University of Northern Iowa faculty members have cast a "vote of no confidence" in UNI President Ben Allen and Provost Gloria Gibson.
The quorum met in the Gallagher-Bluedorn Auditorium Friday afternoon, with dozens of adjunct faculty members and UNI students in attendance. After an hour and a half of debate, the vote of no confidence in Allen passed 197-53, with one voter abstaining. The same measure regarding Gibson passed 172-62, with nine voters abstaining.
The vote is in reaction to several major budget cuts. Faculty are concerned about programs on the chopping block and the lack of input faculty has had in the process.
It's not just the faculty who are concerned about the President's proposals. Students are wondering how the cuts could impact their education.
"I'm going to be deployed soon with the Iowa National Guard. It'll happen soon. And I would hate to see my department is gone when I come back," said Brad Friend, a UNI double major in management and physics.
As if fighting for our country wasn't enough, Friend now feels like he's fighting for his own future.
"I didn't expect budget cuts would interfere with my long-term plans," he noted.
Physics is one of many UNI academic programs the president has put on the chopping block. For freshmen, like Lynne Johnson, it may mean the end of her time at UNI.
"These cuts are basically eliminating all the programs that I'm in. So it's going to force me to change schools," said Johnson.
Friday afternoon, in an auditorium filled with students and non-voting professors, more than 250 faculty members debated President Allen's actions. Some argued, he's not the one to blame. But after an hour of debate, faculty members voted, and the vast majority agreed -- they can no longer support President Allen or Provost Gibson.
UNI Faculty member and United Faculty spokesperson Cathy DeSoto said, the vote doesn't prevent cuts from happening, but it does send a strong message.
"It might be naive, but I would hope this will improve relations. There's been a breakdown of communication, and if anything I hope this helps. I think this is a sad day. It's not something to be joyful about," she said.
A large group of students were at the meeting to show their support for President Allen. Senior Morgan Johnson said, she's disappointed in the faculty's actions, and concerned about the consequences.
"In a meeting I was in on Wednesday, President Allen came and spoke. And he mentioned that he would consider resigning in the event that the faculty voted no confidence in him. And that saddens me a lot. He has done so many great things for UNI in his six years here, that in this time of crisis I'm not sure this is the time to be searching for a new president," said Johnson.
But other students are proud to see their professors make this difficult decision.
"I support the faculty. The students may be the lifeblood, but without the faculty the degree wouldn't be worth the paper it's written on," said Johnson.
The faculty members voted on secret ballots, so there is no way of knowing which professors voted yes or no. That's something students say they will keep in mind as they head back to class on Monday.
Stacey Christensen, a spokesperson from UNI University Relations, said President Allen and Provost Gibson are still moving forward with plans to cut the university's budget.
"The vote is disappointing, but it's non-binding in the sense that both of them are going to continue to do their jobs. They're still going to continue to make the tough decisions that they have to. But, again, it's with the best interests of the students and the university at heart," said Christensen.
Click here to see the amendment passed by UNI Faculty members.
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