Approximately 78 percent of Ithaca College’s faculty members — or 316 of the 406 that participated — voted no confidence in I.C. president Tom Rochon on Monday after a similar vote in which 72 percent of participating students voted no confidence in their president following a string of issues over race and freedom of speech on campus.
“Since Rochon arrived on campus in summer 2008, faculty have issued many public statements, petitions, letters to the campus newspaper and op-eds articulating their opposition to his autocratic leadership style and other grievances,” said a press-release from three I.C. faculty members with the results. “This semester’s vote of no confidence is the product of several years of profound faculty dissatisfaction.”
“Both the faculty and the students have been clear,” said I.C. Prof. Mary Bentley, health promotion and physical education. “I can’t imagine how [Rochon] would lead in a place where faculty and students have not authorized him to.”
Out of 469 faculty members, 406 cast a ballot in the ‘no confidence vote’ — roughly 86.6 percent of all full-time, continuing faculty members eligible to vote.
“These results are also remarkable because so many people voted, despite fears of retribution in this toxic environment,” said I.C. Prof Nick Kowalczyk, writing, in the press release. “We have the most dismal morale in recent history,”
Some faculty members said they are hopeful that the vote will compel Rochon to step down.
“This vote is an absolute indictment of failed leadership,” said I.C. Prof. Peyi Soyinka-Airewele, history, in the release. “It is a signal of our unity and a clear statement from our newly empowered voice. President Rochon can now aspire to his finest hour by honoring the will of the campus and standing down with resolve and some dignity.”
Other faculty members expressed hope that the student and faculty votes will lead to meaningful action from the Ithaca College Board of Trustees.
“I think this vote will be a huge amount of data for them to chew on as well as the student vote,” said Bentley. “I think faculty are pretty clear that they’ve made their voice heard.”
Faculty are dedicated to improving I.C.’s campus, Bentley said.
“This is a very dedicated and intelligent faculty and I think often people don’t understand how faculty members spend their lives here. This is not an in and out kind of place,” she said. “I think they’re pretty dedicated to making this campus the best possible campus it can be and the most progressive campus we can be given the context of our time.”