Eye On Boise

MONDAY, JUNE 13, 2011, 9:29 A.M.

ISU sanctioned for ‘poor faculty governance’

Idaho State University has been sanctioned for poor faculty governance practices by a national association of university professors, and while ISU is dismissing the sanction as "meaningless," one of its major donors disagrees and says the sanction will hurt faculty recruitment. The Idaho State Journal reports that ISU President Arthur Vailas' request to suspend the ISU Faculty Senate, a move the state Board of Education backed, was sharply criticized in the organization's sanction statement. Click below for a full report from the Associated Press, and read more in the State Journal here.

Idaho State sanctioned by college professor group

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — An organization that represents university professors has sanctioned Idaho State University for what the group said are poor faculty governance practices.

The 200 delegates at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association of University Professors voted unanimously on Saturday in Washington, D.C., to approve the sanction, making Idaho Sate the largest higher education institution on the group's sanctioned list that includes just five other schools.

The Idaho State Journal reports that the group in particular objected to the State Board of Education agreeing to Idaho State University President Arthur Vailas' request to suspend the ISU Faculty Senate.

"The report concludes that the administration acted in direct violation of widely accepted principles and standards of academic governance by severely restricting the faculty's decision-making role, by suppressing faculty dissent and by recommending the abolition of the Faculty Senate, and with it, the remnants of shared governance at ISU," the AAUP committee's statement to the delegates read. "While the recent election of a provisional Faculty Senate had initially provided some grounds for hope of an acceptable resolution, the administration's reaction to the provisional senate's initial actions confirms faculty assertions of the administration's consistently acting at odds with principles of shared governance."

Idaho State University Communications and Marketing Director Mark Levine said the association is biased and a report made by the association leading to the sanction contains flaws.

"The vote is absolutely meaningless," Levine told the newspaper. "They represent a meaningless number of national faculty members. It's a vote from an organization that represents less than 3 percent of U.S. faculty. There's no hard evidence that their vote has ever affected any American school significantly. It will not impact the university in terms of its trajectory in areas of student recruitment, being a place where good faculty want to come and do research. It's not going to impact our donors and ability to acquire government grants and philanthropic support."

Jim Rogers, one of ISU's major donors, disagreed with Levine about potential donations, and that by minimizing the AAUP's significance, the administration adds "insult to injury."

"And when you talk about donors, donors go with winners. Donors don't go with losers," Rogers added.

Rogers, who contributed $50,000 to the college professor's group several years ago, said the sanction could harm efforts by the school to recruit the best out-of-state professors.

Rogers is a former chancellor of the higher education system in Nevada. He served as chief executive officer of all eight institutions in the state and their 16,000 employees.

He blamed Vailas for the problems at Idaho State, noting the ISU faculty recently voted no confidence in Vailas. Rogers also said he's "maxed out" when it comes to making more contributions to ISU.

"There's something very sick at that school, and Art Vailas I think is at the core of it," Rogers said. "I was shocked when I heard about the potential for a vote of no confidence. I talked to Art several times about it. Art is not a very good listener. He's very stubborn. He's inflexible. It is his way or no way because he thinks he's right. I told him never to call me anymore."

The Vailas administration declined to comment about Rogers' comments.


Information from: Idaho State Journal, http://www.journalnet.com

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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