December 3, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 42°F


Faculty Council acts on concerns about provost

The Ithaca College faculty appears to be unhappy with the job performance of Kathleen Rountree, provost and vice president of academic affairs — unhappy enough to take action.

The Faculty Council has asked President Tom Rochon to conduct a “360-degree evaluation” of Rountree, in which faculty and staff will review the provost’s performance, according to a senior faculty member who asked that his name not be used out of concern for reprisals.
The faculty member said he does not know if the 360-degree evaluation is being performed because it is up to Rochon to execute it. Rochon declined to comment for this story.

A vote of no confidence against Rountree was also discussed in executive session of the faculty council meeting in September, but the council decided an evaluation would be more appropriate, the faculty member said. The Faculty Council asked Rochon to begin the evaluation process because of incidents in which Rountree did not respect faculty members’ wishes, the faculty member said. Faculty have also expressed concern that Rountree does not engage enough with faculty members, failing to be the link she needs to be between Rochon and faculty.

Rountree said though no one has contacted her directly about the Faculty Council’s action, she has heard that there was a discussion about her. She said she would welcome the Faculty Council to talk to her if they have any problems.

Stan Seltzer, associate professor of mathematics and chair of the council, declined to comment on whether the council asked Rochon to conduct an evaluation.

A second faculty member said Rountree does not respect the wishes of faculty. He said an example of this would be two years ago when the Faculty Council proposed the idea of faculty members who were not eligible for tenure receiving the equivalent of a sabbatical. He said the council worked out all the financial aspects of the proposal. But he said Rountree shot the idea down the first time and again last spring.

A third faculty member cited the same incident as reason to evaluate Rountree’s work.

Rountree said the proposal has not been shut down, but it is in a pending status until funds are available to support it.

The first faculty member said Rountree does not engage with faculty enough.

“In the three years she has been here, I’d be surprised if she knew the names of 10 faculty members,” he said.

Rountree said her office has been understaffed since she came to the college in fall 2007, which she said has made her do more book work instead of engaging with faculty.

“Faculty do not know the many things I am involved with,” she said. “But I assure them I’m working on their behalf all day.”

The faculty members said that at meetings, Rountree has seemed disengaged and unprepared. The first faculty member also said there has been discontent with the provost for a while now.

“It comes to a point where enough is enough already,” he said. “People are unhappy, but they aren’t willing to speak because of fear.”