Updated: Board of Trustees responds to University Faculty Senate’s censure


Alexandria Leland

Utica Unity walk, fall ’22 semester. Students and faculty gather for a unified campus.

Isabella Hudziak and Hollie David

Updated Jan. 26

The Utica University Faculty Senate voted to publicly censure the Board of Trustees on Jan. 25 in response to the recent academic portfolio review recommendations.

A censure is a formal expression of criticism or disapproval against someone or something. In the case of this censure, disapproval is directed at the Board of Trustees. 

The senate voted 108-15 in favor of the decision during an emergency meeting held at 4 p.m. 

The formal censure to the Board cites violations of terms of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated with the AAUP-Utica regarding shared governance.

According to the public censure document, the “Shared Governance: Definition and Participant Roles,” approved by President Laura Casamento and Provost Todd Pfannestiel in March 2021, designated the faculty as primarily responsible for curriculum and affiliated areas.

“There is no apparent intention to include the Curriculum Committee in the academic portfolio review process nor any acknowledgement that ‘the faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas such as curriculum,’” the formal censure said.

The formal censure requests that the Board of Trustees rescind their charge for the academic portfolio review and reject the recommendations from the review.

Additionally, the Faculty Senate asks that the Board provide the data that spurred the original charge as well as follow the proper channels for program revision if necessary.

“The Faculty Senate requests from the Board a detailed account of the apparent crises facing Utica University, and the nature of the actions that they believe are needed to solve them, with specific data demonstrating the effectiveness of such actions, including how passing the academic program portfolio review recommendations will provide financial benefits to the University,” the formal censure said.

The censure will remain in place until the Faculty Senate votes to lift it.

The Tangerine reached out to Board of Trustees Chairperson Robert Brvenik ‘77 and received no comment before press time. On Jan. 26, the Board of Trustees issued an official statement in response to the censure. 

In this statement, the Board explains that they acknowledge that the academic program review recommendations were difficult to make, but the official vote to accept or reject has not taken place.

“Such an action inexplicably and indefensibly suggests the Board’s upcoming deliberations are a fait accompli, and we incontrovertibly reject that notion,” the statement said. “The Board further rejects any assertion or insinuation that the process for reviewing academic majors was hastily borne out of crisis, not transparent, or outside the Board’s purview.”

Additionally, the Board stated that they will not rescind their resolution nor reject recommendations before the official voting on Feb. 17.

“Again, we respect the views of the faculty and encourage them to respond to the recommendations by providing any information that would help the Board in its decision-

making,” the statement said. “But make no mistake, this censure will not influence how the Board decides.”

Censure of the Board of Trustees 1-25-23

More information will be provided as it becomes available.