PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Amid impending budget cuts at Bradley University, the faculty senate voted by a “large margin” to adopt a resolution showing “no confidence” in the leadership of President Stephen Standifird and Provost Walter Zakahi.
This comes after the university announced recently that the cuts would see the discontinuation of 17 academic degree programs, five others that would be turned into strictly Bradley core curriculum classes, and the elimination of up to 68 faculty positions.
Associate history professor and university senate member John Nielsen was at the meeting. He said that the senate ultimately ruled in disfavor of Standifird.
“The rationale that was laid out in the vote was that he is responsible for the situation that the university finds itself in, and as a consequence, we are not confident in his leadership to get us out of this situation,” he said.
A vote of no confidence is more of a “symbolic gesture”, according to Nielsen. He said that the senate doesn’t “delight” in the decision, but he’s hopeful that the university’s board of trustees takes the news seriously.
As for Zakahi, Nielsen said that the provost’s job is to be a “custodian” for the academic as well as the financial side of the university. Zakahi’s decisions also contributed to where the university is currently at, according to Nielsen.
Nielsen also invoked the names of the university’s founder Lydia Moss Bradley and its first president, William Rainey Harper.
He said that their shared vision was that a university is “essential to the workings of a republic”, and that Bradley students needed a well-rounded education.
“Not one that was simply based on jobs to be done, but one that provided citizens for our republic,” he said.
He went on to say that allowing Bradley to become something else would be a betrayal to Harper and Moss Bradley, the students and our republic.
President Standifird released the following statement Thursday evening in response:
“I recognize the discontent among some members of the faculty, and I am not dismissive of the sentiments expressed in the vote. While the results are disappointing, we will continue to work toward a successful and sustainable future for the university. I believe our collective efforts as a university community and our shared commitment to Bradley and our students will endure.”
Provost Zakahi did not release a statement.
The faculty members of the Senate Executive Committee (FMSE) released a report this month calling for the elimination of 30 positions and seeking additional cost savings by reducing the number of high-level administrators and slowing down the creation of new online and graduate programs.
The FMSE questioned the speed of the cuts, as they emphasized that the limited time frame severely hampered the departments’ ability to prepare more thorough reports and make recommendations that could benefit the university.
Department chairs have until Dec. 6 to meet with Standifird, and then a final decision will be made from there.