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Faculty Senate Naysayers Remain Resilient in Opposition of Majority

By Talbert Toole
Lifestyles Editor

While 44 faculty senators raised their nameplates last Tuesday night in favor of the resolution demanding clarity from the Institution of Higher Learning regarding the hiring of the University of Mississippi’s newly named chancellor, two remained resilient in opposition.

Bob Robinson, a Michael S. Starnes professor of management, and Chip Wade, assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, opposed the resolution the moment it was presented to the floor for discussion.

The formal resolution reads:

WHEREAS The premature termination of the search according to the suggested timeline and the de-selection of all the applicants allows for the perception of impropriety on the part of the Board Search Committee;

WHEREAS The mishandling of the campus announcement, which resulted in the physical removal of student protestors at the press conference intended to announce the Chancellor of the University has resulted in further negative publicity for our Institution;

WHEREAS this process in its entirety, and the events since the planned announcement October 4, 2019, has caused immensible harm to our institution and its reputation. 

As the discussion regarding the resolution continued throughout the meeting, multiple senators motioned for amendments to the document. Each time an amendment was brought to the floor for a vote, both Robinson and Wade were lone rangers in voting no.

For several years the university has been divided on various campus issues, including the Confederate monument and the removal of the state flag. Now, the division comes in the midst of the IHL’s hiring process of Glenn Boyce as the university’s newest chancellor.

“At some point, Ole Miss cannot be defined as a divide around a statue, a mascot, a song, race relations, or an IHL process that could have run smoother,” Wade said. “It has to be defined on the success of every one of our students who run across the field for the freshman run and walk across the stage at commencement.”

Both Wade and Robinson told Hottytoddy.com they opposed the resolution because it is not the senate’s duty to dictate the governing body of the university but to advise and make recommendations to the university’s administration.

Chip Wade, assistant professor of integrated marketing communications. Photo via masterimc.olemiss.edu.

Wade said as senators of the faculty, and more importantly, employees of the State of Mississippi, it is not the senators’ “purview” to make demands of any governing body such as the IHL.

Robinson rearticulated Article II of the Faculty Senate Consitution that says the governing body’s role is to assist and make recommendations to those who hold leadership in the Lyceum.

Article II reads “the Senate of the Faculty shall be empowered to make recommendations to the Chancellor and Academic Council on policies affecting the University and to advise on such matters as the Chancellor shall lay before it. It shall also keep the General Faculty fully informed of its recommendations.”

Robinson said this how the Senate should operate.

“They should stick to that,” he said. “I do not believe that telling the Chancellor that he is not wanted before he even gets here is in line with this duty.”

He said he is wary of the lack of civility and fair play that permeates not only the university but the country as a whole. 

“When someone cannot get his or her way, the kneejerk reaction is to shout tyranny and engage in unmitigated character assassination,” Robinson said.

Although Wade disagrees which each piece of the resolution, he said he is in agreement

Bob Robinson, a Michael S. Starnes professor of management. Photo via olemissbusiness.com.

with each stakeholder in the search process that the IHL could have better handled the matter. 

“While there is tremendous debate around the search process, the IHL was tasked with and has final authority in the process,” Wade said. “We as employees of the state do not dictate this process nor the outcome.”

As for the second point of the resolution regarding what the executive officers called the “mishandling” of Boyce’s announcement by the IHL and UPD Chief Ray Hawkins’ removal of a protestor, Wade said it shows a blatant lack of support for the university police. 

Prior to the cancellation of the IHL’s formal chancellor announcement on Oct. 4, student organizer and protestor Cam Calisch was carried out of the room by Hawkins after demanding the administration open its doors for the protestors who stood outside the ballroom at the Inn at Ole Miss. 

Wade said that the lack of communication on the announcement of a press conference had “absolutely nothing” to do with how UPD and Hawkins handled the situation and decision to remove Calisch. 

He said UPD and any law enforcement member should always have support without question.

“We owe a debt of gratitude for every member of the law enforcement community, not throw shade on their actions,” Wade said. 

Opposing Views 

As Wade and Robinson sat next to each other during the Senate meeting, another Senator brought an amendment to the resolution to the floor for discussion. 

Zachary Guthrie, assistant professor of history, proposed language that would add a “No Confidence” clause against the IHL and Boyce; however, the amendment was voted down 42 to 1. A majority vote of no confidence by the board would mean collectively they do not support and/or disagree with the IHL and Boyce’s authoritative power. 

Although the amendment did not pass, the Senate floor did discuss that another resolution for “No Confidence” could happen on Thursday, Oct. 17 meeting.

“The rush to judgment in this matter is particularly disconcerting,” Robinson said. 

Wade said the fact that Boyce had not even assumed the position leaves the Senate with no body of work to judge. A “No Confidence” vote would be an “absolute overstep of authority” besides if it was taken by the administration in the Lyceum, Wade said.

“A ‘No Confidence’ vote because employees don’t like the choice or the process is like judging Chancellor Boyce as an individual or an educator because he chose to educate young men and women of the state of Mississippi at MRA, Canton Academy and Tri-County Academy,” he said. 

IHL Stands Firm in Decision

Members of the Campus Search Advisory Committee (CSAC), which the IHL formed to play an integral role in the search process, say the IHL negated the “appropriate” interview process with Boyce. 

According to Ford Dye, IHL vice president, there were multiple candidates who did not interview with CSAC. He said the rules and process clearly state the search committee is and was allowed to skip certain steps if they deemed those steps unnecessary.

Boyce was involved in the initial search process serving as a hired consultant. In the position, Boyce collected and analyzed community opinions regarding who the board should select as the University’s 18th chancellor. 

He said he was paid $87,000 by the University of Mississippi Foundation—which exists as a private institution—as a consultant. However, neither the IHL nor Boyce have confirmed the amount of time that transpired between the end of the consultation and his appointment as chancellor. 

“I didn’t hire myself. The Board of Trustees hired me,” Boyce told the media. “Once I completed my work—which was completed before the search ever started—I was finished.”

According to Dye, the IHL deemed that none of the candidates for chancellor fit the profile they created and offered Boyce the position. Boyce said he accepted the position after careful consideration of his love for the university. 

Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, spoke to the Senate prior to the vote on the resolution. 

He said he will not comment on the particular process of hiring the newest chancellor but that he believes in Boyce.

“I believe he has the ability to successfully lead our university and I look forward to working with him,” Wilkin said.

On Thursday, Oct. 17, the Faculty Senate will meet again and vote on a “No Confidence” resolution. Although Wade said he will not be able to attend Thursday’s meeting due to another engagement that he said takes priority, another member of the School of Journalism and New Media will be in his place.

Almost two weeks after the IHL announced Boyce as chancellor, the protests and fights to abolish the IHL continue. Approximately 40 LOU community members gathered on the steps of the Lyceum Monday at 12:30 p.m. protesting both Boyce’s appointment and the IHL.

Robinson said the protestors represent less than one percent of the student population.

“To put this into proper perspective, that’s less than 0.18 percent (less than two-tenths of one percent) of a student population exceeding 19,500,” he said.

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