“Let Me Put It Another Way….”

On May 10th the Chronicle of Higher Education observed that “a flurry of votes of no confidence in college leaders….has swept higher ed in the past month.”

In fairness, it should be noted that an increasing number of schools around the country are abandoning the blunt-edged sword of no-confidence votes in favor of more nuanced declarations of dissatisfaction with college presidents.  Here’s a sample:

— At Georgetown University, a Jesuit institution, faculty recently informed the President that “Almighty God is deeply disappointed in you and beseeches you to undergo a public exorcism at your earliest convenience.  Satan must be banished from your corroded soul.”  The President complied, thus averting a faculty strike. 

— Professors at Middlebury College in Vermont voted to avoid making eye contact with the President if they crossed her path on campus and not respond if she greeted them verbally during these encounters.  This shunning led the President to agree to demands that shrimp cocktail be returned to the luncheon menu in the faculty dining room. 

— Lehigh University conducted a “Vote of Intense Irritation with the President” on May 3rd, which passed 402-53.  Three days later, the President embarked on a Mea Culpa Tour of all academic departments, washing the feet of every chairperson. 

— On May 1st, faculty at Mount Holyoke College took a We’re Not Feeling the Love” vote, which passed overwhelmingly.  Subsequently, the Provost announced that elimination of low-enrollment degree programs would always be accompanied by a bear hug and a Starbucks gift card delivered by the President to each laid-off faculty member. 

— Not all schools have chosen to pursue a kinder, gentler path. At the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, faculty voted on April 25th to formally notify the President via text message that “You Suck.”  The President responded with an email that said, “No, YOU suck.”

The Takeaway: If your President does indeed suck, you’ve got options.