AAUP Statement on Next Week’s FAS Vote of No Confidence

The upcoming FAS Vote of No Confidence (to be held March 11-15 by e-ballot) is a stark, but healthy, indicator of the revival of faculty interest in substantive shared governance here at NYU. It confirms the central role that faculty should play in ensuring that our educational institution lives up to its responsibilities. Even more important, the success of the vote will open the way to establishing a new, and more accountable,  approach to achieving NYU’s educational goals.

In the months since the decision was made by faculty to take the vote, has there been a pertinent rejoinder from the administration?

Even though it took the administration more than 14 months to respond to the FSC’s resolutions on the topic, President Sexton has recently avowed that shared governance should be an important part of the NYU landscape. Yet the rhetoric has not been matched by actions. The undemocratic practice of creating ad hoc committees has continued, and has been compounded by the top-down appointment of selected faculty to these committees. The Space Priorities Working Group is widely regarded in this light, and a newly proposed ad hoc committee for GNU oversight has followed along the same lines. In the meantime, top administrators are still being appointed to head up academic units in New York and overseas.

Other than two memos circulated by President Sexton, both of which reflected heavily on his personal feelings, there has been no notable effort to respond overall to the many faculty grievances that led to the call for the VNC. Such general silence has only confirmed the growing disconnect between the executive mentality of the administration and the sentiments of the faculty at large. 

The recent revelations about lavish compensation packages awarded to senior administrators from the early 2000s to the present day have left many faculty speechless. The purchases of multi-million-dollar apartments and homes, and the provision of multi-million-dollar forgivable loans are inappropriate in any non-profit institution, let alone an educational one. At a time when students and their families are struggling to pay tuition, and when compensation at all other employee ranks–instructional and non-instructional–have been depressed or squeezed hard, this kind of largesse at the top speaks volumes about how the university’s finances are being managed. To many of us, the emerging profile is more apposite to a Wall Street firm than a “private university in the public service.”      

The widespread perception that NYU is being mismanaged, fueled by troubling reports about GNU programs and locations, seems to have accelerated the decline of faculty morale. But it has also whetted the faculty appetite for a different kind of presidency at NYU.  In response, the AAUP chapter recently drafted a “bill of rights,” laying out suggestions for putting the institution on a more democratic and transparent course. NYU’s next president has the opportunity to set a nationwide model for a genuinely open institution, where decision-making is part of a university-wide process, and is no longer conducted solely through closed deliberations on the 12th floor of Bobst or in Trustee meetings.       

We circulated that document (and it is included below) so that faculty have talking points around which to discuss this alternative future. The first step in that direction is to vote for the no confidence resolution next week. It is the only way of sending a clear message about the need to restore the integrity of our workplace. 

Andrew Ross, president, NYU-AAUP

Molly Nolan, vice-president, NYU-AAUP

Marie Monaco, secretary, NYU-AAUP

Anna McCarthy, treasurer, NYU-AAUP

Rebecca Karl, at-large executive member, NYU-AAUP

Rana Jaleel, student member, NYU-AAUP