EAST LANSING - Members of Michigan State University's Faculty Senate overwhelmingly supported a no confidence vote in the Board of Trustees during an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Some 65 voting faculty attended the meeting inside the International Center, with 61 voting no confidence.
One of the four members who voted against the no-confidence motion was Shawnee Vickery, Faculty Director of the Demmer Center for Business Transformation.
It wasn’t because she still has confidence in the trustees. She doesn’t. Her issue was the motivation for the vote as conveyed in the email to faculty soliciting their input ahead of the vote.
“This vote of no confidence should be about the failure of MSU to stop Larry Nassar, and the failure of MSU to support the women who were subjected to such horrific abuse at his hands,” she said.
The motion as voted on Tuesday didn’t include a reason for the vote of no confidence. The email that went out to faculty, Vickery said, said the motion was about the process that led to Engler’s selection and the lack of faculty input on that decision.
"The reasons were plain as day for anybody looking at this campus for the past several months," said at-large faculty steering committee member Robert LaDuca.
Both LeDuca and Deborah Moriarty, another member of the steering committee, noted that faculty had several reasons for supporting the no-confidence vote. Moriarty said she voted no confidence because the board hasn't included faculty in the decision-making process.
After the vote, MSU Board Chairman Brian Breslin did not immediately respond to a reqeust for comment. Vice Chairman Joel Ferguson deferred comment to Breslin.
A letter denoting the Faculty Senate's vote will be sent to the trustees, interim President John Engler and faculty members. The vote is considered symbolic, as Faculty Senate has no role in appointing trustees. Under the Michigan Constitution, MSU's trustees are selected by voters in a statewide election. They also can be recalled under state law.
Faculty Senate is the representative body of the faculty at MSU, composed of 73 members from all of the university's colleges.
Around a dozen students from the group Reclaim MSU attended the meeting, hoisting signs with messages like "no trust in trustees".
Natalie Rogers, an organizer with the group, said it felt "so good" to see the faculty support the no-confidence vote.
"It just really confirms that everyone on campus wants something to be done and wants things to change," the sophomore said.
It’s rare for faculty to hold votes of no confidence against university trustees, said Sean McKinniss, who holds a doctorate in higher education from Ohio State University and keeps a database tracking votes of no confidence in academia.
McKinniss’ data is primarily on votes against university presidents. He has tracked more than 180 examples dating to 1989. In more than half of those cases, the presidents left their jobs within a year of the vote.
Votes of no confidence by faculty are often the result of unsatisfying presidential searches, McKinniss said.
The MSU vote, McKinniss said, “will probably force each trustee to evaluate their role with the institution.”
Earlier this month, some 2,776 faculty members were asked if they favored holding a vote of no confidence in the Board of Trustees. A majority of the 1,900 faculty members who responded to the query - nearly 87% - favored having such a vote, which then was scheduled for Tuesday.
Lou Anna Simon, MSU's president since 2005, resigned last month amid fallout over the handling of the Larry Nassar scandal. Her contract allows her to assume a tenured position in the College of Education after leaving the presidency.
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