Faculty Handbook vote leaves questions

By Amanda Finnegan
February 8, 2007

Meghan Hurley

After close to two months of waiting in limbo, faculty are left without results on the vote for new college governance. Chapter one of the Faculty Handbook, which includes a proposed governance structure, was voted on on Dec. 11, 2006. Twenty-six approved, 27 disapproved and 4 abstained. The Middle States Commission for Higher Education mandated revisions of chapter one in March 2005.

In a letter to the faculty on Dec. 15 2006, Dr. Jonnie Guerra, vice president of academic affairs said, “Fifty-eight out of 62 eligible voted. Thirty votes were needed to approve the chapter. The vote did not produce a majority either for or against the chapter.”

But faculty by-laws dispute Guerra’s claim. According to Section 5.1 of the 2004 version of the Faculty Handbook, “A simple majority of a handbook quorum must agree to an affirmative vote.”

Dr. Sheryl Fuller-Espie, associate professor of biology and chair of faculty senate, pointed out to Guerra that according to Robert’s Rules on Parliamentary Procedures, the widely accepted standard for voting, in fact, those voting against the handbook won.

“I would recommend to Dr. Guerra that we form a ‘closure committee’ of elected faculty to sit down at the table and hash out the differences,” Fuller-Espie said.

On Jan. 25, President Iadarola held a faculty meeting to further discuss the vote of chapter one.

“I was really hoping the president was going to say to faculty that we should try to work out our differences,” Fuller-Espie said.

According to Fuller-Espie, the president had a prepared speech and there was no open dialogue, although the president offered to answer questions privately at the end.

Dr. Joseph Romano, professor of philosophy, said the president addressed that faculty members had approached her with claims of intimidation being used by other faculty to vote a certain way.

“There was stunned silence in the room,” Romano said. “What I would have liked to have heard and most expected her [Iadarola] to say was that the faculty have spoken and let’s go back to the drawing board. Her [Iadarola] point seemed to be that we weren’t going to do that.”

“It is my sincere hope that these changes will enable us to put to rest the adversarial relationships that are embedded in our current structure. They are inconsistent with the good governance practices found in higher education today and, in addition, compromise the core values of Cabrini College,” Iadarola said on Jan. 29 in a letter with the faculty.

The president gave the faculty and administration a deadline of Feb. 5 to submit concerns before she turns over the issue to the board of trustees.

Iadarola was away from the college and was not able to respond, according to her secretary. Loquitur was referred to Gene Castellano, the vice president for marketing and communications, who said, “The President spoke from notes at the Faculty meeting. Dr. Iadarola wanted to use her time with the faculty to discuss best practices and the principles of shared governance common in higher education today.

“The president needs to go to the board and lay out all the cards and be honest about everything that has happened over the past semester,” Fuller-Espie said.

The board of trustees, which will meet sometime in February, will review the results and make a final decision on the chapter.

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Amanda Finnegan

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