/ Modified mar 29, 2023 12:02 p.m.

Faculty Senate approves limited "no confidence" in UA administration

Despite the Senate's vote, the Arizona Board of Regents sent a letter saying they support UA President Robert Robbins.

Thomas Meixner Memorial Flowers, candles and letters lay in front of the Harshbarger building sign following the murder of Professor Thomas Meixner on Wed. Oct. 5, 2022 at the University of Arizona. Meixner was killed by a former student on campus.
Paola Rodriguez/Arizona Public Media

This story has been updated to reflect that College of Science Dean Carmala Garzione was also in attendance of the Faculty Senate meeting as an invited guest.

In a 29-13 vote, the University of Arizona Faculty Senate approved a motion of “no confidence” in President Robert Robbins and his administration. The vote was limited only to the administration's actions surrounding the on-campus shooting death of Dr. Thomas Meixner in October.

The group made the vote during a special meeting on Monday afternoon. That meeting was meant to discuss the disbanding of an ad-hoc safety committee that made its own safety report due to fears of retribution and claims of stonewalling from UA.

Robbins, along with other administrators and stakeholders, were invited to speak about responses and initiatives since the shooting last October.

Two of the invited guests spoke at the meeting–Provost Dr. Liesl Folks and College of Science Dean Carmala Garzione. Folks made a brief statement thanking the committee for their work. But she also acknowledged that the events leading up to the shooting were complicated.

"I'm sure those people were trying their best to move the issues towards resolution within the frameworks they are obliged to remain within for compliance and legal reasons. But that proved to be insufficient to prevent the deadly shooting that we ended up seeing," Folks said.

However, that was not enough for some faculty. Many believed that trust with the administration is lost, some called for a change in leadership.

According to their motion, the group claims the university:

  • Failed to ensure the safety of Meixner, the Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences faculty, staff, and students, and the campus before Meixner’s murder

  • Created “a combative, non-constructive response to the General Faculty Committee on Safety for All Interim Report and other Faculty Senate attempts to find ways to improve safety and restore broken trust on campus”

  • "Intentionally called a press conference on the release of the PAX report thirty minutes before a Special Faculty Senate meeting dedicated to the resignation of the General Faculty Committee on Safety for All in which the administration had been allocated time to address elected faculty senate concerns.”

Robbins told reporters during his Monday news conference that he was not invited to the meeting, but members of the Faculty Senate sent AZPM a copy of the invitation that was sent to Robbins' staff, which was sent last Friday morning.

Now, the Senate is calling on the administration to “demonstrate progress towards a comprehensive risk management system and accountability by specific personnel actions…and the initiation of collaborative efforts with shared governance with a timeline and measurable benchmarks for improvement subject to Faculty Senate oversight within the next 30 days.”

The Arizona Board of Regents responded with a letter to the Faculty Senate Chair. In it, the Regents said they “fully" support Robbins, and that his “guidance has led the university to achieve extraordinary success,” through “unprecedented challenges.”

ABOR Chair Lyndel Manson, on behalf of the body, said they respect the range of opinions from the Senate meeting Monday and encourage them to work “constructively moving forward.”

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