Bellarmine University faculty members have voted no confidence in their president, provost and senior vice president.
“The president has made poor financial decisions in response to the dire fiscal realities that Bellarmine is facing and does not inspire confidence in leading the university out of the situation,” says the resolution on President Susan Donovan. The Faculty Assembly’s resolutions were provided to Inside Higher Ed after The Courier-Journal previously reported on them Wednesday.
Among other things, that resolution also says Donovan has embraced strategic visions that partly “undermine our history as an independent liberal arts university in the Catholic tradition,” including through the “elimination of majors and programs that support the liberal arts core and consequently the number of adjunct faculty teaching within the core.”
That resolution passed 58 to 46, with two abstaining. The two other no-confidence resolutions passed by higher margins in favor. These results were shared with faculty members late last month.
Donovan told Inside Higher Ed Thursday that there are 165 full-time faculty, so the votes expressing no confidence in her represented 35 percent.
The university is phasing out nine undergraduate majors, including philosophy, physics and theater, and two graduate programs in athletic training and medical laboratory science.
“None of those have more than 10 in the major,” Donovan said of the liberal arts majors.
Jason Cissell, a university spokesman, said these enrollment figures only include those who were enrolled in May but not set to graduate. He said the figures also don’t include those who plan to newly declare these majors by the end of August, the cutoff.
Donovan said, “We’re not eliminating any of those disciplines, we’re continuing those, but we just can’t continue small enrollments in upper-division courses.”
Cissell said the university hopes layoffs won’t be necessary. University leaders didn’t provide numbers for how many positions they’re seeking to shrink the university by, or what kind of budget deficits they would face if they don’t make these changes.
“There’s really programs that we don’t have or programs that we started that are growing that need resources,” Donovan said. “Public health, neuroscience … computer science—there’s great student interest in those.”