NNU’s President, David Alexander, is stuck. His actions, resulting in the firing of tenured theology professor, Tom Oord, have drawn attention from all corners of the the Christian academic community and the Church of the Nazarene. You can read my summary of the situation here. It is my personal belief, that the actions Alexander has taken in recent years discredits his reasons for Oord’s termination now. To demonstrate this belief, I have been writing this 3 part series on Questioning NNU’s President. You can read Part 1 and Part 2.
I was going to write a part 3 today. I was going to detail a faculty meeting with Alexander, where the faculty offered to forgo their raises ($400k) in order to abjure any layoffs (the means for the $400k). I was going to write how Alexander refused to accept the faculty’s plea, citing that no raises and no layoffs were a short-term solution.
I was going to write about that at length. But then something happened yesterday.
The Faculty Passed a Vote of No Confidence
In an email that went out today to President Alexander and Chair of the Board of Trustees, Randy Craker, NNU’s Faculty Officers announced that after a 3 1/2 hour meeting, a Vote of No Confidence in the leadership of David Alexander passed (77% to 23%).
The Faculty also voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Framework for Collaborative Governance document that the Faculty Officers submitted to Alexander and Craker last week. The Framework of Collaborative Governance expresses the grievances of the faculty. In matters of organization and layoffs in their own departments, Alexander has repeatedly ignored advisement from deans and faculty. The Framework also charts a way forward for the Governance of NNU that reaffirms covenant community and a commitment to collaborative work between the Faculty and the Administration.
The key point in the Framework of Collaborative Governance affirmed by the faculty was this:
“We resolve to assist the President and the administration in achieving the Board’s directives with regard to the budget and financial outlay that include increasing reserves, reducing spending, increasing student enrollment, and prioritizing programs without the elimination of positions in graduate counseling and religion.”
Is a Vote of No Confidence as Valuable as “Tenure?”
What does this mean? Where does this go? First of all, a vote of no confidence in a University President will make enormous waves in the academic world. This will be big news for other colleges and administrators, not only in the Christian College world, but for all colleges. It will send a message to the public that Alexander’s actions are questionable.
But what’s really going to happen? Well, it’s in the hands of Randy Craker and the Board of Trustees. They have the ability to suspend these actions, investigate the legality of the layoffs, and work with the faculty and Alexander to achieve their budgetary goals.
The easiest thing for the Board of Trustees to do is wait until summer. The easiest thing to do is nothing. This has the potential to blow over, and come fall school will resume and the faculty and the Administration will carry on as if the marriage was just fine, and Oord will be gone. But this Vote of No Confidence puts immense pressure on the Board to suspend these actions and evaluate Alexander’s leadership.