Georgia Gwinnett faculty senate tackles no-confidence vote; talks persist

The faculty senate at Georgia Gwinnett College has been discussing a possible no-confidence vote in the school's leaders. (Eric Stirgus / Eric.Stirgus@ajc.com)

Credit: Eric Stirgus

Credit: Eric Stirgus

The faculty senate at Georgia Gwinnett College has been discussing a possible no-confidence vote in the school's leaders. (Eric Stirgus / Eric.Stirgus@ajc.com)

Faculty members at Georgia Gwinnett College will try to resolve issues with school leaders before a pending no-confidence vote, according to the co-president of a statewide employee group.

The faculty senate met Tuesday to discuss pursuing a no-confidence resolution, a rare step faculty members can take to signal displeasure with the direction charted by a school’s administration. The meeting came just days after college leaders sent a campuswide employee message responding to faculty concerns about shared governance, communication and transparency in budget decisions.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the faculty senate passed a resolution with an amendment to allow a mid-November confidence-or-no-confidence vote by the full faculty, said Jill Penn, co-president of the United Campus Workers of Georgia. The statewide organization includes employees at all 26 of the state’s public colleges and universities, including at Georgia Gwinnett.

“Over the next six weeks, the faculty will try to come to an agreement with the GGC administration on a number of key issues,” Penn said.

In a Wednesday message to college employees, President Jann Joseph said she has “been made aware” that the senate “moved a resolution forward.”

The college issued a statement saying that administrators continue “to be committed to working with our faculty and staff on issues that impact the college.” The statement cited examples such as increasing the student retention rate and program offerings, managing budget cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic without laying off faculty, and remodeling campus spaces.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday obtained an earlier draft version of a proposed no-confidence resolution through an open records request with the college. It states that Joseph, Provost George Low and Chief of Staff Kat Kyle are targets of the proposed action.

That document outlines concerns including with faculty pay, employee shortages, “poor planning for increasing enrollment,” a possible conflict of interest because of an administrator holding more than one leadership position, funding priorities and lack of faculty input in college matters. The draft resolution also references communication issues, “including failure to share documentation that should be publicly available” in a timely manner.

Faculty senate President Tirza Leader, who is also the senate’s spokeswoman, sought permission from the college’s communication office to comment on Tuesday’s meeting. Georgia Gwinnett College spokeswoman Jacqueline Todd told her that the reporter should instead request information through an open records request. Todd told the AJC that she didn’t have details from Tuesday’s meeting.

In a campus letter sent last week, Joseph and 10 top administrators defended their work while noting a “lingering sense of discontent among some members of the faculty.”

Georgia Gwinnett College enrolled just over 11,000 students last year and had 447 full-time instructional faculty and 119 part-time faculty, according to its website.

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