In a rare public rebuke from their new chancellor and his administration, Rutgers-Camden faculty members issued ‘no confidence’ vote amid lingering questions about why a dean was fired and whether the state university’s smaller campus is underfunded.
Professors and other faculty at the Rutgers-Camden College of Arts and Sciences voted last week to express their distrust of Chancellor Antonio Tillis, who has been in office for less than five months, and his deputy, the Rector of the Daniel Hart campus.
The multi-day vote counted on Friday was 94-56, with 19 abstentions, against Tillis, teachers’ union officials said. The faculty also voted 111-37, with 21 abstentions, to express distrust of Hart. About 85% of faculty members at Rutgers-Camden College of Arts and Sciences voted.
A spokesperson for Rutgers-Camden did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Tillis and his administration.
Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway addressed the vote briefly on Friday in an address to the University Senate. He expressed confidence in new Chancellor Rutgers-Camden and his provost, but admitted there had been “missteps” on campus.
“There are a lot of challenges and there have definitely been some missteps, but Antonio and I are determined to move forward in a positive, constructive and collaborative manner with the Rutgers-Camden community and, in particular, its teachers.” , Holloway said.
“I would like to reiterate my intention to work with Antonio and Dan Hart, the Provost, to realize our shared vision for Camden,” added the President.
The unusual vote of no confidence, which was the first in recent memory at Rutgers-Camden, is largely symbolic. The faculty has no power over who holds the highest administrative positions on campus. But the vote comes as many professors continue to wonder why the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Howard Marchitello was brutally sacked last month.
Marchitello, a well-known English scholar who remains at the faculty, emailed professors after his dismissal to say he was deleted “unintentionally” from his post of dean after three years at the request of Tillis. Union officials said he linked his unexplained withdrawal to public comments he made on Rutgers’ “chronic and structural underinvestment” at Rutgers-Camden, where professors have complained for years of being under. -paid compared to faculty at New Brunswick and Newark university campuses.
Tillis declined to answer questions about the Dean’s impeachment during a campus meeting earlier this month, saying it was a matter of personnel.
“Do we have confidence in a leadership team that violated long-standing standards of shared governance with the brutal, unfair and unwarranted sacking of our dean, mid-semester, with no plans in place to deal with the chaos and turmoil?” fallout from their bizarre behavior created? Lorraine Minnite, Rutgers-Camden associate professor of public policy, said ahead of the no-confidence vote.
Tensions have simmered at Rutgers-Camden for decades over how the South Jersey branch of State University is treated and funded in relation to the New Brunswick-Piscataway and Newark campuses.
With 7,200 students, Rutgers-Camden is by far the university’s smallest campus of 66,000 students. Many of its students are first generation students.
More recently, professors at Rutgers-Camden complained that a Rutgers pay equity plan designed to correct wage imbalances among university employees was hurting Camden. Complaints about the pay equity plan dominated the Board of Governors meeting in Camden last month, the body that oversees Rutgers.
State Senator Loretta Weinberg, who has championed legislation pushing for better pay equity statewide, made a rare appearance before Rutgers’ board of directors to reprimand the university for the alleged pay gaps.
“There is no reason – no reason at all – for the state’s first public university to perpetuate inequality,” Weinberg, D-Bergen, told Zoom at the Camden meeting.
Rutgers board chairman Mark Angelson said the salary adjustment process was still in its infancy and the university was committed to getting it right.
Pay equity issues, the Dean’s sacking and concerns about fairness for Rutgers-Camden were all linked in last week’s no-confidence vote, said Jim Brown, associate professor of English and chairman of the Camden chapter. by Rutgers AAUP-AFT. , the union representing more than 5,000 full-time faculty, graduate students and other employees.
“This faculty vote is specifically aimed at whether we have confidence in a leadership team that fired a dean mid-semester without a clear explanation or succession plan in place,” Brown said. “But this is not the end of what we need to do to assert our role in shaping what happens on our campus and our university. This is not the end but a beginning and an invitation to repair the damage that has been done to Rutgers-Camden.
Although common on some other college campuses, votes of no confidence were relatively rare at Rutgers. In 2011, Rutgers-Newark faculty held a vote of no confidence after clashing with campus chancellor Steven Diner over preliminary plans to restructure college programs. A few months after the vote of no confidence, Diner resigned without explanation.
Tillis, who was most recently interim president of the University of Houston-Downtown, succeeded Chancellor of Rutgers-Camden on July 1.
The 55-year-old veteran college administrator earns $ 375,000 a year for his work. He replaced Phoebe Haddon, who stepped down as Chancellor at the end of last school year.
Tillis, who is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, told NJ Advance Media after his selection last spring that he saw himself as “a people-centered leader” who understood the importance of team building. He wanted to work closely with Camden’s leadership so that Rutgers could continue to help develop the city, he said.
“I understand what motivates the students at Rutgers-Camden,” Tillis said at the time. “It’s not just about them. Their success also depends on the upliftment of their families and communities.
Personal editor Adam clark contributed to this report.
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Kelly Heyboer can be reached at [email protected].