MSU faculty urges senate vote of no confidence in board
A majority of full-time faculty members at Michigan State University have voted to support a faculty senate vote of no confidence in the school's board of trustees.
In electronic balloting, 69 percent, or 1,907 faculty members, voted. Of that number, 1,653 voted yes, 192 voted no, and 62 abstained. The results were tabulated and sent to the school's faculty Saturday night.
On Sunday, faculty senate members were meeting off-campus to discuss logistics for an emergency meeting to take that vote.
An email, a copy of which was obtained by The Detroit News, from the at-large members of the steering committee at MSU said the vote produced "more than a quorum," enough to bring the vote forward in "academic governance."
"We have held an emergency meeting of the faculty of the Steering Committee who have voted to move the vote of no confidence to an emergency Faculty Senate meeting, where it can be discussed further and then voted upon," the email said. "We are currently working to find a time and place for this meeting."
Professor Robert LaDuca of the Lyman Briggs College at MSU, and a member of the faculty senate, confirmed the vote Sunday and that the senate is working to find a time and place for the emergency meeting of the senate to take a vote of no confidence based on the faculty vote.
Other members of the faculty senate on Sunday didn't respond to requests for comment.
LaDuca also sent a letter, signed by the five members of the faculty senate, indicating that the board lost the senate's faith after a Jan. 29 meeting, where they "express(ed) in no uncertain terms" to the five board members present that former Michigan Gov. John Engler was the wrong choice for interim president.
"We suggested that the interim president have significant experience devising and implementing programs to mitigate sexual harassment and sexual abuse," the letter reads. "We suggested that a strong effort be made to place a woman with extensive academic leadership experience in this position, because her lived experience would provide needed wisdom at this juncture."
"We have issues with both the selection itself and a selection process that used meetings with students, faculty and deans to give the appearance of consultation," the letter reads. It ended promising what took place Saturday, an electronic ballot asking faculty members if a vote of no confidence was the right move.
"If that vote of no confidence passes," the letter concludes, "we will call on the entire board of trustees to resign immediately."
LaDuca, who describes himself as a "moderate Republican," said the board's decision to choose Engler would've been just as problematic had it chosen former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The issue wasn't so much about red or blue, but the divisive nature of politics itself, he said.
"There's no point in hiring someone who half the state hates," LaDuca said. "We need a healer at this point in time. Why in the world choose a divisive figure?"
LaDuca said that while the suggestion of a woman was not a requirement, Granholm's name did come up at the meeting between the faculty steering committee and the board. Two other names mentioned: retired University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman, and Mark Murray, former president of Grand Valley State University, now vice chairman of Meijer.
Two days after the meeting, the board unanimously voted to appoint Engler interim president, a decision the letter says the senate learned of in the news media.
LaDuca said steering committee members are meeting at Sunday at a private location, off campus to figure out when to hold the vote, which could be as early as Tuesday.
The next scheduled meeting of the senate is Feb. 20. LaDuca said that given the pace of events on campus, "that might as well be November."
Even if a no-confidence vote took place, LaDuca admits, "it (would have) no legal authority, just moral."