Provost Gary Shapiro: Last year’s vote of no confidence was ‘not pleasant’
Last year’s vote of no confidence against University President George Ross and Provost Gary Shapiro came as a shock to Shapiro.
During a meeting with Central Michigan Life staff members Friday, Shapiro said he felt he had been doing his best to fulfill his job responsibilities last year.
“I will say it was not pleasant. It was not pleasant professionally, it was not pleasant personally,” Shapiro said. “To have a vote of no confidence where I believed I was acting appropriately and had been fulfilling my job responsibilities to the best of my ability (and then) having the faculty disagree was disturbing.”
Shapiro taught in CMU’s sociology, anthropology and social work department from 1978 until 1989. He was appointed director of institutional research in 1989, assistant vice provost for institutional research and planning in 1993, and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1995. He served as interim registrar and vice provost from 1994-95. Shapiro was dean of the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences since July 1997, and served as interim provost in 2007 and from July 2009 until April 2010, when he was named provost.
Shapiro said he formed friendships with other faculty members throughout the years and those friendships seemed to dissolve at the end of last year.
“What was disturbing is some of the people that I thought I had friendly relationships with engaged in some of those activities without talking to me about them,” he said.
After the initial vote of no confidence on Dec. 6, a second vote was brought forward in Academic Senate, but was later dismissed.
The proposed second vote occurred after the provost and president went to different departments to listen to the problems of the faculty in person. At least one department refused to meet with Ross and Shapiro, and others expressed either support or discourse for the situation.
“I found meetings with faculty to be very beneficial in the sense that we could hear their concerns directly rather than being filtered through a spokesperson or the newspaper,” Shapiro said.
The tensions caused by events last year did nothing but harm the university, Shapiro said.
“The conflict and discourse that we had last year was harmful to the university. I think our faculty and administration are really concerned about our students and I don’t think that conflict was helpful to them. It was distracting and not functional for the purposes of the university,” he said.
Looking forward, Shapiro said unity between the faculty and administration is essential in order for relations to improve.
“One of the things that really bothers me is we talk about both sides of the aisle as if that divides us. We shouldnt have an aisle betewen us. We should be committed to the university. We are one university.”
Open lines of communication, increased transparency and regular meeting with departments and deans are on Shapiro’s list of things to improve this academic year.
“The people I have been talking to have been saying ‘let’s move forward together.’ There’s still distrust on both sides, but the way you gain trust is not by words, but by action,” he said. ”I can’t just say ‘I’m going to to communicate more’ to make people happy unless my actions follow my words.”
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