David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
The No Confidence Vote: Higher Education's Version of 1 Vs. 100

May 16, 2013:  The No Confidence Vote:  Higher Education's Version of 1 Vs. 100

Recently, I seem to be seeing more and more headlines about faculty casting "no confidence" votes towards their administration, usually the President.   A few weeks ago it occurred at New York University, a week later Marshall University faculty issued a similar "no confidence vote" in their President (this sounds blatantly obvious to those of us who attended WVU), both coming on the heels of such votes at Rollins College and Saint Louis University.

These symbolic acts seem to be mostly useless.  In some cases, the vote of "no confidence" may accelerate a Board's removal of a President, but no Board is going to openly cite a "no confidence" vote as its reason for giving a President a boot.

More interesting to me, though, is what a "No Confidence Man" (to bastardize Melville's title) would use as his "no-confidence" tricks.

  • The Nigerian Studies email spam -- "President Richass has cut my programs and denied me access to the library for research.  Please send a vote of no confidence to the Board and a $1000 check to me."
  • The Injured bystander act -- The no-con artist steps in front of the faculty member's car as he or she attempts to pull into tight spot in the faculty parking garage.  As the no-con lays there on the ground writhing, his shill comes up and starts screaming about "President Richass has known this parking garage is a death trap, but he has done nothing for years.  Tell the Board you have no confidence in him, and give this injured man here your insurance information."
  • The online lover scam -- "Oh, Professor Noitall, I love you so much, but we can never meet because I have been a student in this online class and President Richass has clearly stated faculty can't date students.  Tell the Board you have no confidence in him and send me a check so that I can buy Victoria's Secret underwear to wear in front of my webcam."
  • Swamp land realty -- "President Richass encouraged all of us to donate for the construction of the new library.  But, now he tells us there will be NO books and it is in the middle of crocodile-infested swampland.  Vote No Confidence at the meeting tonight!  And take a look at this cute little bungalow that would be a great retirement home for you."  (Granted, this one may only really work in Florida.)
  • The Chain E-mail -- "If you delete or do not forward this e-mail to 10 other faculty encouraging them to participate in the No Confidence Vote for President Richass, you will suffer a series of horrible setbacks.  You will have to teach nothing but freshman level classes; you will stain your favorite plaid sports jacket; you will serve on the Committee of the Committees."
A Board of Trustees would have to hire their own no-con man to counter the faculty no-con man.  We could see a series of No Confidence votes to the previous No Confidence votes.  Wheeeeee!!!