ITHACA, NY – Despite a substantial majority of the faculty declaring no confidence, Ithaca College President Tom Rochon reaffirmed that he has no plans to step down.
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On Monday, the results of the faculty no confidence vote showed that 77% of the faculty had no confidence in Rochon. Weeks earlier, 72% of students who voted declared the same.
Rochon and the Board of Trustees who may be ultimately responsible for his fate, made no signs of budging. Both released statements shortly after the vote’s results were revealed.
Rochon acknowledged the results, saying they were difficult to hear, but that he was listening. He said that he remained “determined to improve Ithaca College’s culture for the better, and that includes improving my own approach to collaborating with our faculty, staff, and students.
“l am committed to working with every faculty member, every staff member, and every student who desires to make Ithaca College a more welcoming and inclusive community,” his statement said.
The statement from the Board of Trustees Chair Tom Grape and Vice Chair spoke about the board’s ongoing outreach to the campus community in response to the turmoil. They have been “actively engaging” with students, faculty and alums to “determine the best path forward.”
“We know that in many respects this discussion has been difficult, yet we also believe that it demonstrates our community’s strong dedication to building a better future for Ithaca College,” their statement concluded.
Faculty response, tensions
The faculty response was somewhat less diplomatic.
A group calling themselves Faculty @ IC – presumably in solidarity with the student-run activist group PoC @ IC – also released a statement after the vote results were revealed.
In it, professor Peyi Soyinka-Airewele of the department of politics said, “This vote is an absolute indictment of failed leadership… President Rochon can now aspire to his finest hour by honoring the will of the campus and standing down with resolve and some dignity.”
The letter characterized the vote as as “the product of several years of profound faculty dissatisfaction,” noting that since Rochon’s appointment, there had been a number of faculty statements, letters and petitions directed at problems with his administration.
Mary Bentley, associate professor of health promotion and physical education called the results of both student and faculty votes a “call to action to the for the College’s Board of Trustees to remove this president,” adding that it was time to move beyond him and get to the real work” of creating a better campus climate.
However, there was also some tension in the ranks of the faculty. According to the Ithacan, it was revealed that the results of the vote had been released by the Faculty Council to Rochon and the Board of Trustees prior to their release to the rest of the faculty and the general public.
Opinion was split on whether or not that was the correct decision. Nick Kowalczyk, associate professor of writing, said that it was Faculty Council’s responsibility to put the needs of the faculty over that of the administration.
As a counterpoint, Michael Twomey of the Department of English felt it was fair, as Rochon’s “situation is already pretty bad.” He felt giving Rochon and the board time to prepare statements would help ensure the college didn’t look like it was “melting down.”
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