CARROLLTON, Ga. (AP) — A faculty body at the University of West Georgia voted “no confidence” Friday in university President Brendan Kelly, saying he failed to properly consult or communicate with professors on issues including a sweeping academic reorganization, COVID-19 teaching procedures and changes to the university's diversity efforts.
The Times-Georgian reports that the university's Faculty Senate approved the motion on a 32-14 vote with five senators abstaining. A vote among all 512 full-time faculty members at the 13,000-student university will follow by Oct. 26. If it passes the whole faculty, the resolution would be presented to Georgia's Board of Regents, which governs the state's 26 public universities and colleges.
The faculty vote isn't binding on the regents, who hired Kelly last December to lead the Carrollton university. But professors hope to influence them, and the vote also could draw negative attention from the university's accrediting body
Kelly previously led the University of South Carolina Upstate. He has denied that he has failed to to talk to faculty or consider their views as the university navigates budget cuts that led to the threat of layoffs.
“The last seven months have been challenging for me as a leader and for the institution as a whole,” Kelly said in a statement after the vote. “Despite all of these challenges, we are going to find ways to work together to ensure we deliver the highest quality experiences for every student attending this university and all those who will.”
The vote followed a petition laying out Kelly's perceived failures. Sociology professor N. Jane McCandles said Friday that she wrote the previously anonymous document, which charged that Kelly's "leadership decisions are to the detriment, rather than benefit, of the University of West Georgia.”
Faculty senators on Friday repeatedly complained about a lack of communication from Kelly’s administration and a desire for the administration to seriously consider faculty input. The representatives who spoke frequently used the words “disrespect” and “fear” to describe the current campus climate.
“Please communicate with us,” said Beheruz N. Sethna, who was president of the university for 19 years and remains a business professor. “These are the things that would be a positive step forward, in my opinion.”