N.Y.U. Head Faces Prelude to a No-Confidence Vote

Ann McClure's picture
Friday, December 14, 2012

Professors at New York University’s largest school are planning to meet Thursday to contemplate a bold undertaking: holding a no-confidence vote about the university’s president, John Sexton.

Faculty members of the school, the School of Arts and Sciences, who favor holding a vote say Dr. Sexton has been unresponsive to the faculty’s concerns. In particular, they cite the university’s plan to expand in Greenwich Village, over the opposition of 38 academic departments, and its efforts to establish footholds around the world, even in countries where there is no academic freedom, where professors are then asked to work. They also say that his administration has a top-down leadership style that is at odds with the traditions of faculty governance.

The meeting on Thursday is only one step: the topic at hand will be whether to hold a no-confidence vote, but that vote would not occur until later, and would involve only the quarter or so of N.Y.U.’s faculty members at the School of Arts and Science.

And though no-confidence votes have contributed to the downfall of some university presidents, including Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard’s former president, they are typically nonbinding resolutions that do not obligate the university to take any particular action.

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