The Felner Story: Proof of No Confidence Vote

Who knew? Basically, everyone wants to talk these days and we’re barely able to field all the phone calls. (Who wants to help pay for extra cell phone minutes this month? Goodness.)

We mentioned in the first story about Robert Felner (read that HERE) that there was a vote of no confidence in him by UofL faculty and we are finally ready to publish those notes. We didn’t plan on doing so until Felner’s attorney, Scott Cox, took it upon himself to declare that everything on the internet was filled with “misinformation” a few moments ago on WHAS11’s 5:00 P.M. newscast. For the record: My sources are law enforcement officials, officers, UofL officials, faculty, staff, former employers, coworkers, et al. I don’t peddle misinformation and I take my integrity seriously.

So. That vote. Enjoy the minutes from that faculty meeting regarding Robert Felner’s vote of No Confidence. We’ve decided to publish initials instead of full names to protect those who don’t deserve to have their names in the press.

Here’s the juiciest portion of the minutes:

P.P. gave the following reasons why he supported the motion: Public humiliation of faculty, work place harassment, retaliation for voicing opinions, little or no governance, decisions that hurt College, unacceptable and unfair hiring practice; rude, offensive, unethical behavior by CEHD representatives; denial of support for research to those who differ in opinion; and extreme inequity of pay.

Now for the full minutes.

Motion 1: “Move that a vote of No Confidence in Dean Robert Felner now by secret ballot by tenured and probationary faculty.”

Motion 2: “That an ad hoc committee be formed to promote faculty governance, to revise the Bylaws of the College of Education and Human Development, and that the committee be comprised of one faculty member from each department, elected now, at this meeting, by the entire faculty, by secret ballot.”

Motion to add motions was seconded by E.M. Call for secret ballot. Robert clarified that a “Yes” vote would add these items and suspend agenda to deal with these items first. A “No” would mean that the meeting would continue with agenda as written. Vote: Yes=36; No=16 Motion passed.

Motion from P.P.: Vote of no confidence in Robert’s leadership. Motion seconded. Discussion. Robert asked for those who wanted to speak to the motion.

Read the rest after the jump…

P.P. gave the following reasons why he supported the motion: Public humiliation of faculty, work place harassment, retaliation for voicing opinions, little or no governance, decisions that hurt College, unacceptable and unfair hiring practice; rude, offensive, unethical behavior by CEHD representatives; denial of support for research to those who differ in opinion; and extreme inequity of pay.

N.C. said when she came to this country sixteen years ago, she believed in fairness because that is what this country represented to her, and that her experience in the college for the last few years has shaken her belief in fairness. She said she experienced the exact opposite. One of the things that has bothered her is that the hiring practice and committee works have not been respected and that many times people were hired without being interviewed by the search committee. She said many people, from assistant to full professor, came to tell her how depressed they were. She stated that we are working in an environment where people do not trust one another any more. She is committed to this college and this university and plans to work here for the next 20 years. She closed by saying we need to set things right, and the moment has come for us to speak up.

S.S. – votes like this should not be taken lightly. A vote such as this will be extremely harmful to our reputation. Directions of the College are keeping with the university; Robert has hired wonderful young faculty in recent years. Sam stated to Pedro that he is open to looking at data, but not voting on slanderous remarks.

J.P. said some of his concerns are the same as S’s. He reminded faculty that we are in the midst of hiring and now is the time to hold together and not divide ourselves. He stated that he doesn’t always agree with the dean, but the general direction of the college is going where it is supposed to go. If Robert were to leave tomorrow, we would still need to head down the same road. It is a healthy move because the dean is open to dialogue.

B.R. – Change is very difficult, more in the CEHD than any place within the university, because we did NOT change in the beginning when the rest of the university changed. What has happened since Robert has been here is that we’ve repaired relationships with school systems and the Kentucky Department of Education, realigned with the university, and have been given an unprecedented amount of resources. Robert was not brought here to make people happy, but to put us on the map.

Robert asked if there were others who wished to speak.

S.L. – In a recent luncheon for junior faculty, the Provost made it very clear that junior faculty hired within last few years were hired to put UofL on the map. She told them that UofL was mandate by the State to become preeminent metropolitan research university. She told them there would be immense growing pains, and it would be very competitive. The Provost/President’s agenda is with us regardless of whether or not Robert is in place.

T.M. – The CEHD is moving to align with UofL, not competing with ourselves or within university, but are competing nationally. Robert came to us with national prominence. We need to tone down our stress. Lots of reviews going on, NCATE, new hires, etc. and think of how we’re going to get there and do it together. We need to bring in great doctoral and graduate students and this will not happen if we vote against our dean. Get to roots of problems.

E.M. – said she did not appreciate Bob’s “fear” tactic. She said she was thoroughly excited when Robert was hired. She said many of the
“unhappy” faculty are productive and the process started with Ray Nystrand, including years when Doug was here, we’ve been steadily getting better each year. Extremely hurtful things have been done to faculty over the past few years. Biggest issue is the lack of faculty governance. Almost nothing is discussed, even within departments.

B.W. – we have brought on much of this ourselves. Faculty need to know what their rights and responsibilities are such as serving on committees, working with the dean’s office, and making decisions about curriculum.

Robert Felner – I don’t always agree with everybody, and they don’t always agree with me. When I got here people were in groups making budget cut decisions; the President was not happy with us; JCPS was not happy with us; we do not have time to deal with issues because we’re on a fast track; there are compliance issues, etc.; it’s okay to disagree with me.there is a grievance process. I was accused of seizing an entire department’s budget, but grievance filed 28 days after person was reimbursed. People are depressed, so am I. There is a tradition of personal attacks on each other and the dean; we are supposed to be civil and stay on issues.

Clarification: In response to P’s comment, Robert asked J.P. if S.S. was voted on by the ELFH department; J affirmed that he was. Affirmative Action has always been followed.

Robert Felner – The Board of Trustees is telling me to go faster and faster. I spend more time dealing with negative issues instead of focusing on funding. Our scorecard target for publications is 150–we have 40. We have not hit our $10M target in extramural funding. Salary adjustments have been given to many faculty to address inequities. Discussion happens in faculty meetings, and if we need more meetings, then we will have them monthly. President and Provost fully support me [Robert], even though they have concerns about the College.

P.P. – The issue the dean referred to regarding seizing a department’s budget and failing to reimburse was another misrepresentation among many others that I will not get into and will be dealt with later. The issue here remains, if the faculty wish this climate of fear, retaliation and ineffective leadership to continue, then vote that way.

Call for vote. Seconded. Request that faculty member be allowed to assist in the counting of the votes. Yes = means no confidence; No = means you support the dean. Vote: Yes = 27; No = 24; Abstained = 2; Motion passed

Certain folks can stop accusing me of spreading misinformation or trying to bring somebody down. We deal with facts here. If you want to attack my message, fine. But to attack me? At least have the balls to attack me in-person and not on-camera, not on the radio, not in print and not behind my back where I don’t have the opportunity to respond. I believe I have been more than fair with this story and have provided facts and information at a time when no one else in the media other than Gary Kunich in Kenosha, Wisconsin could be bothered to, you know, report.