Faculty members at the University of New Orleans passed a vote of no confidence Friday in the school’s president, Peter Fos, a day after he announced plans to eliminate seven academic programs and cut more than two dozen faculty and staff positions.
The largely symbolic vote was passed by a majority of Faculty Council members present, according to one member who attended the meeting but requested anonymity. The council includes all of the university’s full-time professors.
In the course of a nearly two-hour meeting, faculty members also took up a separate resolution making a series of demands on Fos: to halt plans to fire tenured faculty members; to find comparable positions for faculty in the department of geography, which is slated to be eliminated; and not to let any staff go until the formal restructuring process is finished next year.
“Tenure is an anchor of academic freedom and a protection against unwarranted dismissal,” an early draft of one resolution stated. “Those faculty members that earn tenure must continuously honor and fulfill the responsibilities that accompany it, and they must vigorously defend it.”
The draft resolution acknowledged the need for a “smaller and stronger University of New Orleans,” given budget constraints, but it questioned the need to fire “tenured faculty members in the department of geography.”
Fos declined through a university spokesman to comment on the vote.
Faculty Council Chairwoman Connie Phelps did not return a message seeking comment.
In announcing his plans Thursday, Fos said a months-long review had identified which programs at the cash-strapped school ultimately fit with UNO’s long-term mission, considering factors such as student demand, graduation rates and tuition revenue.
Among his proposed cuts, Fos recommended eliminating UNO’s bachelor’s program in early childhood education; master’s programs in special education, political science and Romance languages; and doctoral programs in curriculum and instruction, special education and political science.
He also proposed eliminating the geography department, which stopped offering degree programs in 2011; reducing UNO’s budget for adjunct instructors by $1 million annually; and eliminating four positions in the school’s library. With fewer adjunct instructors, Fos plans to begin requiring that department chairs teach a minimum of two courses each spring and fall semester.
Fos released his recommendations ahead of a meeting next week of the board of supervisors of the University of Louisiana System, which will have final say on the changes.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.