IU faculty vote no confidence in Whitten, Shrivastav, Docherty

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (IUSTV News) — IU Bloomington faculty passed votes of no confidence for IU President Pamela Whitten, Provost Rahul Shrivastav and Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Carrie Docherty during a special meeting on Tuesday.

The motion for no confidence in Whitten passed with 93% of the vote out of 888 total ballots cast. 827 voted no confidence, 32 abstained, and 29 voted otherwise.

The motion for no confidence in Shrivastav passed with 91% of the vote out of 879 total ballots cast. 804 voted no confidence, 28 abstained, and 47 voted otherwise.

The motion for no confidence in Docherty passed with 75% of the vote out of 895 total ballots cast. 672 voted no confidence, 116 abstained, and 107 voted otherwise.

3,276 faculty were eligible to vote at Tuesday’s special meeting, and the total attendance reached 948, according to minutes of the meeting from the Bloomington Faculty Council, or roughly 30% of the eligible voters.

Members of the voting faculty met from 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. at the IU Auditorium, and the meeting was closed to the public.

The Executive Committee of the Faculty Council said they received a petition signed by more than 200 members of the voting faculty calling for a special meeting of the full faculty to consider a vote of no confidence of the three administrators.

According to the university, the voting faculty are tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty, as well as librarians who have appointments of at least .75 FTE, as well as emeriti. Additionally, part-time, acting, adjunct, visiting, or honorary faculty, postdoctoral fellows, research associates, academic specialists and student academic appointees do not qualify as members of the voting faculty for special meetings.

It is the first time since 2005 that an IU President faced a vote of no confidence.

In May 2022, the faculty considered a vote of no confidence in Provost Shrivastav over his handling of the graduate workers strike, but the vote failed to make the agenda.

IU President Pamela Whitten sent the following letter to IU Bloomington Faculty and Emeriti Faculty after Tuesday’s vote of no confidence:

This university and your success are deeply important to me. And after today’s vote, I write to share my reflections on how we can move forward together.

While we will not always agree, our community is made stronger by an array of viewpoints and voices—including those expressed as part of this process.

We serve at a time when trust in higher education is at record lows, and expectations for our role as an economic and cultural driver are at record highs. Our self-concept of purpose and value often differs wildly from how we are viewed by lawmakers, civic leaders, industry and much of the general public. Such differences are not tenable forever.

There is no going back to an earlier time. Demographic changes, resulting financial realities, and political developments are only accelerating. To combat the challenges that mark this new environment, I welcome thoughtful ideas and consideration.

Against this backdrop, our trustees have charged us with making difficult but necessary decisions to ensure that IU, and IU Bloomington, as the flagship, emerges as a leader among elite research universities.

Institutions are never static. They are evolving, innovating and getting stronger, or they are stagnant and losing momentum and relevance. But we can only achieve the former if we work together, if we communicate with honesty and compromise, if we operate on the same team.

As we plan our future together, I encourage you to suggest innovative opportunities within your department, school or college to share your ideas. In turn, I pledge to listen and learn. I will weigh the guidance from faculty council and the participation of the campus community through shared governance to achieve our collective vision of a thriving campus.

The change we seek for IU Bloomington is grounded not in an inability to appreciate what is already here, but in a desire to ensure that what comes in the future can match the strength of IU’s legacy. The IU we seek in 2030 and beyond will look different in some ways than the IU we know today – not because we have diverged from our mission, but because we have met this challenging societal moment and boldly embraced our purpose—for students, for scholarship and knowledge creation, and for service to society.

Working together, we can achieve even more for this extraordinary institution. We can uphold the legacy of Herman B Wells and ensure IU thrives as an international academic leader while being a workplace that embraces respectful collaboration.

IU President Pamela Whitten

IU Board of Trustees Chair W. Quinn Buckner also released a statement about Tuesday’s vote, saying:

“Let me be absolutely clear: President Whitten has my full support and that of every member on the Board of Trustees. I have the privilege of working hand in hand with her and I regularly witness her deep integrity, compassion and commitment to IU’s future. She is an extraordinary leader who is crucial to Indiana University’s success and will be serving as our president for years to come.”

Board of Trustees Chair W. Quinn Buckner

The IU Board of Trustees released a joint statement, saying:

The current environment across higher education is unprecedented. These challenges have confronted leaders across U.S. universities at a staggering pace, encompassing an evolution in societal perceptions of higher education, a shifting public policy landscape, and world events resulting in unrest on campuses across the country. Indiana University is no exception, and—as we move forward together—we must demonstrate shared respect and grace in navigating these tumultuous waters.

Meanwhile, the ambitious work of the university must go on. At our direction and with our support, President Pamela Whitten is leading at a time in higher education where the status quo is not an option. It is against this backdrop that we proudly endorsed IU 2030, the university’s strategic plan outlined by President Whitten and her administration, which was designed with faculty and staff participation on every campus. It sets forth a positive and bold vision for the university, grounded in a commitment to student success and opportunity, transformative research and creativity, and service to the state of Indiana and beyond. IU 2030 is the roadmap for IU’s continued growth and sustained excellence, and President Whitten’s leadership is key in delivering the results required.

As a Board, we continue to offer our full support to President Whitten. She is the right leader at the right time precisely because she has pursued a future for Indiana University that will ensure that it thrives in its next era. It is our intention that President Whitten’s tenure as the leader at IU will provide the many years necessary to realize the vision we have established for the university.

We, the Board of Trustees, stand united in our confidence in President Whitten and the long-term success of IU. By acknowledging the realities of today’s world and working collaboratively, we are poised to collectively accelerate the achievement of our goals. This shared commitment fortifies our resolve to usher Indiana University into its next century of success.

Together, we have laid the groundwork for a future filled with achievement, innovation, and excellence. After all, Indiana University is, and must remain, a gem among the nation’s most pre-eminent and iconic public research universities.

IU Board of Trustees