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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 22, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

Faculty Council votes to hold no confidence vote

Ithaca College faculty members will vote in a referendum on the issue of confidence in President Tom Rochon.

Faculty Council passed a motion to hold a vote at a Nov. 10 meeting. The referendum will include all full-time, continuing faculty members; professional librarians; and phased retired faculty, said Peter Rothbart, chair of Faculty Council.

This decision came after faculty members in three schools at the college voted to compel Faculty Council to call for a vote. The Roy H. Park School of Communications, the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance and the School of Humanities and Sciences all voted in support of holding a vote. The School of Business voted against holding a vote, and the School of Music did not hold a vote.

In the past couple weeks, faculty members have voiced their concerns about issues including perceived anti-intellectualism and racial comments at the Blue Sky Reimagining Kick-Off Event.  Many faculty members walked out of the Oct. 27 “Addressing Community Action on Racism and Cultural Bias” event with students, led by POC at IC, chanting “Tom Rochon: No confidence.”

The specifics of the referendum will be determined at a Faculty Council meeting at noon Nov. 12.

Faculty members had mixed reactions to the call for the vote.

Donald Lifton, associate professor of management, said he appreciated the work the council had done at the meeting. He said this is all a work in progress.

“I’m pleased because the core question has been resolved: whether or not to conduct a vote,” Lifton said.

At the Oct. 27 community meeting, Lifton said he thought for the institution to move forward, Rochon needed to step down.

Jeff Lippitt, associate professor and chair of accounting, said he doesn’t support the vote. He thinks getting rid of Rochon will not fix the problem. Rather, he wants to see the campus being educated about how to fix the problem.

“I’m more interested in trying to focus on putting a lot of energy into understanding what the problem is, educating everybody and solving the problem. I don’t think the president is the problem. I’m sure he has made mistakes. He’s human also,” Lippitt said.

Tim Hurley, assistant professor of accounting, said while he thinks there are problems on campus that need to be addressed, he is not sure if a no confidence vote will be the best solution.

“That can do a lot of damage to the university’s reputation in the community and across the state, and maybe beyond,” Hurley said.

Steven Skopik, professor and chair of the Department of Media Arts, Sciences and Studies, said regardless of whether the president leaves as a result of current events, the college will have work to do to fix the problems, and it will take faculty, staff, students and administration.

Vivian Conger, associate professor of history, is a member of the Faculty Council and was present during the executive session when the council decided to go forward with the vote. She said she thinks the council made the right decision.

“I am happy with what we decided to do there,” Conger said.

David Salomon, assistant professor of art history, said the vote is the right way to go given the number of complaints against the president.

“This seems like the proper place to do it and the proper way in doing it. I feel that it is in line. It is not excessive. It is measured,” Salomon said.

Assistant News Editor Faith Meckley, Senior Writer Michael Tkaczevski and Staff Writer Sophia Tulp contributed reporting to this article.

Grace Elletson can be reached at gelletson@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @graceelletson

Max Denning can be reached at mdenning@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @TheMaxDenning