CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- The University of Northern Iowa faculty Friday issued a vote of no confidence in President Benjamin Allen and Provost Gloria Gibson.
The entire faculty was invited to the emergency meeting at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center. They voted 197-53 in favor of the no-confidence motion for Allen, with four people abstaining, and 172-62 with nine abstentions and one spoiled ballot for Gibson after about 90 minutes of discussion.
Only 160 were needed to vote.
"I'm not fighting for my job right now. I can get one at IBM when we are done," said Andrew Stollenwerk, an associate professor of physics. "I am fighting for what I believe in. I wonder why all these intelligent people weren't consulted for ideas to fix this problem, ideas that wouldn't compromise our beliefs."
The vote came after a contentious two weeks on campus where Allen has announced the closure of Malcolm Price Lab School, the closure of the UNI Museum, cuts to athletics and still yet-to-be announced academic cuts.
But, not everyone inside the meeting felt the no-confidence vote was necessary. During the vote about 60 students held up signs saying "I support Ben Allen" and "#TeamBenAllen," referring to the Twitter hashtag that had been started in recent days. They also expressed their displeasure with the vote and reiterated their support for Allen on Twitter.
"I understand cuts are difficult but they have to come from somewhere," said Chris Bowden, a junior in communications. "He has had focus groups in the past and based on that research and other recommendations he has made the logical decisions."
But, the faculty who spoke mostly disagreed. They repeatedly said the adminstrations' decisions would cause irrepairable harm to the university and its mission.
Martha Reineke, a professor in philosophy and world religions, said the president's proposed plan to cut any academic program which had graduated fewer than 10 students in each of the previous five years would effectively turn the university's liberal arts core into a community college education.
According to the United Faculty the cuts are proposed in areas like physics, geography, religion, philosophy and teaching of English to speakers of other languages.
The motion presented to the faculty said the no-confidence vote was necessary because university administration has determined to close programs without consultation of faculty, students, parents or community members.
They also said the vote was mandatory because "no feasible plan for accomplishing the educational and research functions of the lab school."
Jeffrey Funderburk, the chair of the Faculty Senate and a professor in the School of Music, had asked for the vote to be taken up at another meeting, which would be in accordance with regular meeting procedures. The group's bylaws also allow for a vote in an emergency meeting, such as this, to forgo those procedures which the faculty opted to do.
"We have had very good consultation if very late. I would hate to see anything we did today derail the next opportunity," Funderburk said. "I'm not sure how much difference a week would make."
Scott Peters, a professor in political science, said that consultation has made a difference and that he believes some programs have been removed from the proposed list of cuts because of those discussions.
But Betty DeBerg, a professor in philosophy and world religions and the United Faculty vice president, believes the "dumping" of program names on the Faculty Senate was part of a show.
"The administration has treated the faculty with utter contempt," DeBerg said.
However, Al Hays, a professor of public policy, said the enemy isn't in Seerley Hall, but in Des Moines.
"As upset as we are about the process, I think we need to be careful not to take actions which will further weaken our reputation and ability to do hard negotiation and hard advocacy with the people undercutting education," he said.
Many students continued to offer their support for Allen as the faculty left the room. They continued to hold their signs and a few even shouted "Students First."