UIS Faculty Announce "No Confidence" Survey

Sep 12, 2019

UIS United, the union representing tenured and tenure-track professors at the University of Illinois Springfield, today announced a no-confidence vote on campus administrators.
Credit UIS United

The faculty union at the University of Illinois Springfield today released a survey that amounts to a no-confidence vote against top administrators.

Chancellor Susan Koch, Provost Dennis Papini, and the four college deans scored approval ratings below 40 percent. The survey also asked professors whether they felt a “strong sense of belonging” and would be “happy to spend the rest of (their) careers” at UIS. Most of those responses were similarly negative.

On questions about transparency and budget priorities, only one in 10 respondents expressed confidence in administrators.

Stephen Schnebly, a professor of criminology and criminal justice, says in the spring 2019 semester, there was what he calls “a water-cooler perception of a crisis of confidence.” So in April, UIS United sent out the survey. 

“The real purpose of this survey was to gauge the climate, to simply answer the question: How are things right now? And the survey very clearly points out that, from a faculty perspective, in terms of how administrators are viewed, things are not good,” he says.

Out of 155 members, all of whom are tenured or tenure-track professors, 79 completed the survey. Although that’s only 51 percent, Schnebly (who also teaches statistics) says anything above 30 percent is considered a robust response. 

The survey release was not accompanied by any requests, but its announcement comes a week after the union issued a demand to bargain over UIS’ suspension of its “desktop refresh” program, which provides new computers to staff on a four-year cycle. 

Schnebly says what the union ultimately wants is to have a stronger voice in campus decisions.

“The faculty expect — and this campus has historically had — a strong tradition of shared governance, where the faculty get a meaningful voice,” he says. “We consider ourselves citizens of the university. And we want to have a voice, we want to have a vote, we want to have a meaningful impact.” 

A university spokesman says the administration had no comment on the survey, because officials don’t want to bargain through the media.

CORRECTION: The headline has been updated to reflect the technical distinction between a survey and a formal vote.