Vote of no confidence to occur

Oakland AAUP is holding a “vote of no confidence” March 24-31 regarding OU President Gary Russi’s leadership. 

AAUP planned to hold a similar vote in November 2009, but postponed it to March to give Russi time to make good on promises he made at a Nov. 19 open faculty forum. 

Russi promised to hold regular meetings with deans, AAUP leaders and others and vowed to make available documents pertaining to the school of medicine. 

He reiterated these and other promises at a follow-up faculty open forum held March 11.  

At that forum, Frances Jackson, AAUP’s grievance officer, said the main issue is that faculty’s trust in Russi had eroded, to which many of the 140 in attendance applauded. 

“All board members have publically voiced their support for Dr. Russi and his administration and are extremely satisfied with the progress Oakland University has made in the last 15 years under Dr. Russi’s leadership,” said board of trustees chair Jacqueline Long. “This leadership is especially important during these challenging economic times.” 

Faculty said issues that have caused this distrust range from salary disputes to the lack of a faculty liaison to the board of trustees and extend all the way back to the handling of an appointment of an interim dean in 1999. 

“Any one of these problems would be considered troubling; together they demonstrate a larger pattern of behavior that is dangerous,” said Karen Miller, AAUP vice president. 

The vote will be held on a secure website maintained by the AAUP, according to Miller. It will be a simple “yes/no” decision, with results being presented in writing to the board of trustees. 

What would happen with the results is unclear. Though it wouldn’t have a direct consequence, it might compel the board to take action. 

“A substantial majority vote declaring no confidence in a president or other academic leader typically triggers a resignation within a year,” Miller said. But she said even 30 percent of faculty declaring “no confidence” is likely to make the board act.