Thursday, 4:30 PM
UMass-Boston faculty pass no-confidence vote against system president
By Peter Schworm, Globe Staff
Faculty leaders at the University of Massachusetts at Boston today voted overwhelmingly to approve a no-confidence measure against UMass president Jack Wilson, handing him his second rebuke for a proposal to restructure the five-campus system.
The Faculty Council, which is comprised of 29 faculty representatives, approved a measure this afternoon after criticizing Wilson for shutting them out of discussions about the reorganization. One professor said faculty simply wanted a seat at the table.
About 70 professors attended the meeting, but the vote was not open to all faculty members, unlike the 214 to 1 vote of no-confidence taken last month at UMass-Amherst.
Wilson, who did not attend todayís vote, has vigorously defended the plans, which he has said would help the system achieve its goal of becoming a leading state university and capitalize on Governor Deval Patrick's biotechnology initiative.
Robert Connolly, a spokesman for Wilson who attended today's meeting, said the president understood the main criticism -- that the faculty felt they were not consulted. Connolly stressed the plan to streamline the five-campus system was preliminary. Wilson told UMass-Boston faculty last week that consolidation plans are theoretical and would be discussed at length before changes were made.
"I think it's notable that the most specific proposal we have made with regard to UMass-Boston -- the appointment of Keith Motley -- was unanimously endorsed," Connolly said after the meeting.
Motley, the system's assistant vice president for business and marketing, would become the new chancellor of the Boston campus, under Wilsonís plan. Other changes would include appointing Michael Collins, currently the chancellor of UMass-Boston, to be interim chancellor at the medical school, and the removal of John Lombardi, the popular UMass-Amherst chancellor, at the end of the next school year.
The resolution passed at UMass-Boston today criticized Wilson for proposing to reorganize the university's leadership without "visible consultation or deliberation." According to the measure, the proposals "have undermined trust in the University of Massachusetts System's leadership, thereby severely damaging the effectiveness of the current administration at all levels and burdening future administrations with the task of rebuilding essential relationships."
The governor said last week that he backed Wilson's right to reassign university leaders, and some faculty leaders at UMass-Lowell have also voiced their support, saying they had the "utmost confidence" in Wilson's leadership.
But in other parts of the state, the plans have drawn sharp criticism.
Ten state legislators from Western Massachusetts have asked Patrick to conduct an independent study of the university's governing structure, and expressed "strong objections" to Wilson's restructuring plans. The proposal, the legislators wrote, is "a serious mistake that undermines the mission and quality of our public university system."