October 20, 2017

Assumption faculty votes no confidence in college president

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A total of 56 tenured and tenured track faculty members at Assumption College don't have confidence in President Francesco Cesareo.

Despite a faculty senate vote of "no confidence" in President Francesco Cesareo, Assumption College's Board of Trustees and the religious order sponsoring the school are not proposing any administrative changes.

The vote among 82 tenured and tenured track faculty members revealed that 68 percent didn't have confidence in Cesareo, according to biology Professor Owen Sholes, president of the representative faculty senate.

According to Sholes, three quarters of the faculty submitted ballots for the vote, which was held over the span of several weeks.

A total of 56 voted no confidence, 24 voted in the affirmative and two submitted blank ballots

Sholes cited long-standing concerns about Cesareo's leadership among faculty members after several rounds of layoffs and a 10-percent decline in enrollments since the president took over in 2007.

Nationwide, college enrollment is down, but Sholes said Cesareo takes "no responsibility at all."

According to Sholes, Cesareo had no answer at a recent meeting when asked if there would be more layoffs this year.

The non-binding faculty vote won't alter the leadership of the college, the college said in a statement distributed to students, faculty and staff.

The college's statement said only half of the school's faculty voted. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, there were 146 full-time faculty and 149 part-time faculty in fall 2016.

According to Sholes, 82 faculty members participated with 54 voting no confidence. There have been at least two rounds of layoffs since fall 2016, Sholes said.

In the same statement, the board of trustees said it unanimously supports Cesareo "as evidenced in the five-year contract we recently awarded" to the president.

According to Sholes, the president has eliminated several positions, including a music and business professor, but the college said it is focusing on new, innovative academics.

"One reason for the faculty holding this vote is the proposed reduction of programs that have generated minimal degrees in recent years so that the college can make innovative and bold investments in new academic programs that will provide students expanded academic and career opportunities," the college said.

The board highlighted the new Tsotsis Family Academic Center, a new 62,000 square-foot building dedicated to in-demand academic programs.

"We, the board, have absolute confidence that the college is moving in the right direction under President Cesareo's leadership, and we express our gratitude to him for carrying out the board's priorities to build upon Assumption's exemplary academic reputation," the Trustees said.

The Augustinians of the Assumption, the sponsoring religious order of the college, said it fully supports Cesareo, who they said has led efforts to strengthen the school's Catholic liberal arts mission.

"A careful and responsible steward of the resources entrusted to Assumption, President Cesareo has ensured that the mission remains central to the education provided by the college," the Augustinians said.

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