NJCU Senate casts no confidence vote against President Sue Henderson

Financial debt and lack of transparency cited as factors in vote

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The NJCU Senate accused President Henderson of financial mismanagement and a lack of transparency. Photo by Mark Koosau
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Despite the no confidence vote, the Board of Trustees signaled their support for Henderson. Photo by Mark Koosau.
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The NJCU Senate accused President Henderson of financial mismanagement and a lack of transparency. Photo by Mark Koosau
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Despite the no confidence vote, the Board of Trustees signaled their support for Henderson. Photo by Mark Koosau.

The New Jersey City University Senate has cast a no-confidence vote against University President Sue Henderson, citing millions in financial debt for the university and a lack of transparency as reasons for the vote.

The University Senate, which is largely composed of faculty members and a few student representatives, voted 30-23, with nine members abstaining.

The motion for the vote accused Henderson of financial mismanagement; in it, Senate members state that since the beginning of her tenure in August 2012, the university went from a $101.8 million surplus to $67.4 million in debt by 2020. It also accused the president and the administration of a lack of transparency.

Fran Moran, chair of the university’s Political Science Department and Senate President, charged that decisions were being made without consultation. Moran said the Senate, faculty and its union should influence some of the decision making.

For many, the impetus for the move was when the university hired the consulting firm, rpk GROUP. The firm was said to “provide project management support, data collection and analysis,” according to the university. But according to Moran, there were concerns that the firm would lead to the university cutting programs, citing previous examples of the firm recommending cuts in other universities.

“It was just really poorly communicated, and that was sort of the final straw that prompted the resolution,” Moran said.

Despite the no confidence vote, the Board of Trustees signaled their support for Henderson. Photo by Mark Koosau.

Following the Senate vote, the motion will be sent to the Senate Administration Coordinating Committee; if it agrees with the vote of no confidence, it goes to the university’s Board of Trustees, which will decide whether or not to remove Henderson.

However, the board has signaled its support for Henderson. Board of Trustees Chair Joseph F. Scott opposed the resolution for being “riddled with inaccuracies despite countless attempts to clarify these issues.”

“The Board and I remain confident and supportive of the President and her administration, and the work we are doing in support of the institution’s mission,” he said in a statement.

Moran believes that the vote won’t lead to Henderson leaving, but instead hopes that it will bring attention to the issue and signal the faculty’s dissatisfaction with the university direction over the past few years.

“I’m hoping that we have an opportunity to reset the relations between administration, faculty, staff and students going forward here,” he said. “In the end we’re trying to make an educational experience that works for our students, and if everybody’s at each other’s throats, it’s not good.

“After the vote, we scheduled a meeting with the upper administration, and we’re going to start figuring out where to go next from this.”

Henderson declined to comment via university spokesperson Ira Thor, who cited the Board of Trustees’ earlier comments.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.