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EWU provost resigns amid conflict with faculty

Mon., June 7, 2010, 12:23 p.m.

Eastern Washington University’s provost has resigned amid conflict with college faculty and just three days before the faculty senate was to hold a no-confidence vote on his leadership, school officials confirmed Monday.

John Mason, provost and vice president of academic affairs, submitted his resignation in a letter Friday. It’s effective June 30, but he is currently on sick leave, officials said.

After speaking with Mason, university spokesman Dave Meany said: “From his point of view, an honest answer is that he’s decided to resign over concerns for his health.”

But last month, a memo signed by the deans of the College of Science, Health and Engineering outlined complaints against Mason, including that he took too long to make hiring decisions, and he’d made curriculum changes in science when his expertise is in English. A second letter from department chairs at the College of Arts and Letters said the concerns regarding Mason were not isolated to one college.

Raphael Guillory, president of the Faculty Organization and Faculty Senate chairman, said the letters weren’t behind the expected vote of no-confidence. “There were enough concerns regarding Dr. Mason” to proceed with that vote even without the concerns expressed by the deans and department chairs, he said.

“The faculty senate, because of his resignation, decided to not proceed with a vote of no confidence. We felt it was not warranted,” Guillory said.

The vote of no confidence was expected Monday. The faculty senate is an advisory group to the university president. A vote of no confidence by the group is not binding, Meany said.

Mason was recruited to his position in July 2007 from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where he was dean of Liberal Studies.

As the university’s second-in-command, he served as EWU’s acting president while President Rodolfo Arevalo was on medical leave beginning in December 2008.

Arevalo refused to comment, but in a memo to staff and faculty on Monday he wrote: “John cares deeply about Eastern Washington University, and I appreciate his dedication, work, and contributions on behalf of the University. We all wish John and his family well in the future.”

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