Lesley University’s Faculty Assembly says it has voted no confidence in university president Janet Steinmayer for the second time in roughly a year.
This time, it says, it also voted no confidence in the university’s Board of Trustees.
Grace Ferris, the assembly chair, said the university shared in January that it faces a $10 million deficit, and it seemed like the president and board were saying then that they needed to come up with a plan to fix this by March 1.
“We had to get us operating within our means,” Ferris said. “So that very much felt like code for pending layoffs.”
Ferris said the assembly includes the Cambridge, Mass., private university’s 167 faculty members with full-time or prorated faculty contracts. Lesley doesn’t offer tenure.
Of the members, 105 participated in the Feb. 28 vote, and 88 percent of them voted no confidence in both Steinmayer and the board, according to a Tuesday news release from the assembly.
The release says that, after the vote, Steinmayer invited faculty leaders to a meeting last week to discuss working together on “Better Lesley”—the university’s initiative that “was set out [in January] to re-imagine the future of Lesley by right-sizing the organization, ‘reducing complexity,’ and optimizing its offerings ‘within the university resources.’”
“A candid conversation was had in which faculty underscored the depth of frustration, exhaustion and lack of clarity in President Steinmayer’s execution of the Better Lesley initiative,” the release says. “A coalition of faculty and students held a protest outside.”
Faculty, in voting no confidence, “cited the accelerated six-week timeframe, lack of oversight and expertise of a permanent CFO, and lack of meaningful participation from the majority of faculty as major design flaws in the Better Lesley initiative … Additionally, the vote highlighted the lack of adequate fundraising on the part of the president and Board of Trustees to offset revenue decline from low enrollments,” the release says.
“Currently, more than 100 management faculty and staff across all disciplines are thinking about how Lesley will provide students with the best education for the future at the same time as we plan for living within our means,” said John Sullivan, a university spokesman. “Lesley is fortunate to have the resources it needs, including a significant endowment and valuable real estate acquired in connection with the purchase of an additional campus in 2018, to invest in making any changes that are required. While we appreciate how stressful change can be, Lesley has the right leadership.”
In December 2021, the release says, 84.5 percent of 122 faculty participants voted no confidence in Steinmayer “based upon the systemic issues that they believed the president failed to address: student housing mismanagement, operational mismanagement, financial mismanagement, marginalization of people of color within the university and erosion of shared governance.”