UPDATE: College Faculty Reject Wagner ‘No Confidence’ Motion
College faculty have rejected the motion of “no confidence” in University President James W. Wagner.
The result was sent via email to College faculty Friday night by Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Governance Committee Chair Stefan Lutz.
The ballot asked, “Should the faculty of Emory College of Arts and Sciences adopt the motion of no-confidence in President James Wagner?” The final tally showed that 39.8 percent of voters, or 133 faculty members, voted in support, while 60.2 percent, or 201 faculty members, were opposed.
Of the College’s 530 faculty members, 63 percent — or 334 members — participated in the voting. Polls opened Monday and closed at 8 p.m. today.
If the majority of the faculty had voted “no confidence,” the result would have had no direct effect on Wagner’s employment as University president but would have expressed the faculty’s belief that Wagner is no longer fit to lead.
“This is an important vote for the president,” Lutz told the Wheel. “I think it shows that there are a number of faculty that are happy or satisfied with the current system, and I hope that we all as a community can come together now and try to work out our differences and move forward together.”
In a University statement released Friday night, Wagner said he respects the faculty’s “right to express concern” about his leadership and the direction of the University.
“I take to heart the significance of this vote,” he said in the statement. “Faculty governance and faculty responsibility for the future of Emory University are essential. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the administration and with the faculty to carry out the mission of this great institution.”
College faculty voted last month to hold the “no confidence” vote via electronic ballot. While faculty governance bylaws prohibit electronic votes for such motions, those in attendance voted to suspend the rules due to the limited representation of the entire faculty present.
At that meeting — which was held after Wagner addressed College faculty at a meeting the week before — some who were in favor of a “no confidence” vote cited Wagner’s Emory Magazine column regarding the Three-Fifths Compromise as well as his role in the department changes announced last semester. Other faculty members defended Wagner by stating that he had made a mistake or that many issues were out of his control.
Some faculty members believed holding this vote would place the University in a negative light and would send the wrong message to students.
In February, the College faculty voted to censure Wagner over his controversial column. A censure, one faculty member at the meeting said, is stronger than a reprimand but not as strong as a vote of “no confidence.”
Laney Graduate School students will participate in a similar vote this Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on emory.edu/vote. The Graduate Student Council passed the bill allowing the vote earlier this month. Laney students will have a choice of “yes,” “no” or “abstain,” and the vote will also include a text box on the ballot, enabling them to explain the reasoning behind their votes.
The Student Government Association (SGA) failed to pass a bill last month that would have added a “no confidence” vote to the student government elections electronic ballot. At the SGA meeting, the bill was amended to focus on the direction of the University in general rather than Wagner specifically.
Students, faculty and alumni have also created an online petition at KeepWagner.com that went live on Wednesday night and now has more than 750 signatures. Meanwhile, the Student Re-Visioning Committee (SRC) gathered on the Quadrangle Wednesday to urge faculty to vote “no confidence.” The SRC is a group of students that formed in opposition to the department changes and that has protested since the fall.
An in-depth version of this story will be available in Tuesday’s issue.
— By Karishma Mehrotra
Updated at 9:38 p.m. on April 12, 2013.