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WIU Faculty to Vote on "No Confidence" Referendum

Rich Egger

A petition with signatures from about 24% of the Western Illinois University faculty has been submitted to the WIU Faculty Senate. It asks for a no confidence vote in the university's administration.

Faculty Senate President Dr. Steve Rock, a professor of economics, told Tri States Public Radio this is not a Faculty Senate initiative.

According to the group’s constitution, if at least 20% of the faculty signs a petition asking for a ballot referendum, the Faculty Senate must administer the vote.

“This is the first time an initiative has been brought to the faculty senate requiring us to have a faculty vote. I know there are other campuses across the country that have had no confidence votes in their administration but this is the first I’m aware of it here,” Rock told Tri States Public Radio.

Rock said the ballot wording will reflect exactly what is written on the petition, which asks about the confidence in the administrative leadership but does not name anyone in particular.

The secret mail-in ballot will ask faculty to vote either:

  • I have confidence in the administrative leadership of WIU
  • I have no confidence in the administrative leadership of WIU

Rock said the results will be determined by a simply majority out of the number of faculty members who vote. He said the results will be presented to Western’s Board of Trustees if the faculty passes a no confidence vote in the administrative leadership. 

Rock said he doesn’t expect to have a tally by the BOT’s next meeting scheduled for March 23 because the voting process will take until the end of the month.  He said the Faculty Senate is currently waiting for Western's DPS to print addressed envelopes for the ballots to be mailed out to faculty members.

Rock said the petition does not identify any single individual or group as leading the effort. He said the majority of the signatures came from the College of Arts and Sciences, though there are signatures from faculty members from all the colleges.

The petition's language is critical of the administration's decision to lay off tenured faculty and eliminate academic departments. It also takes the administration to task for the decline in student enrollment at Western.

Faculty members are represented by the University Professionals of Illinois. The union is in mediation with the administration on a new contract.