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Faculty Senate Drama

There was high drama at the Faculty Senate meeting today. Several days ago, there were cryptic announcements coming out of the UMass administration: Lombardi said, in a very brief statement, "[...] I have agreed to extend my term as chancellor [...]" which sure made it sound to me like he had quit and had agreed to stay on. Wilson said, he planned to take direct control of the UMass campus and there would be an evaluation of whether or not that arrangement would continue. At the beginning of the meeting, there were a variety of expressions of suspicion and concern that the plan was premature, ill-considered, and for which any evidence of due process was lacking. No-one had been consulted and, in spite of President Wilson's protestations that nothing had happened yet and this was all pending the approval of the board, there was a strong sense of being presented with a "palace coup" as a "fait accompli". Then Senator Rosenberg stood up.

Stan made an impassioned speech to the audience echoing the grave concerns of the faculty and extending them with a powerful indictment of the UMass administration and Board of Trustees. He claimed that Lombardi was driven out - not in the short term, but by the fact that his agenda to advance the University had been systematically marginalized by the upper administration. He said that the legislators were also unaware of any of these new arrangements. He continued that the Amherst campus had never received the support that it needed to become a leading flagship campus and that Lombardi had never received the support needed for his initiatives. He described the frustration he felt when he learned only 48 hours ago that this plan had been under discussion for months, secretly among the leadership. Wilson left the meeting severely damaged. The whole university system is damaged at this point. It's no longer clear how to move forward and this scandal will undoubtedly make advancing the University's agenda much more difficult.

Afterwards, the motion on Andrew Card was brought up again. The presiding officer ruled that the motion presented by the Rules Committee was out of order because it hadn't been put on the agenda soon enough and, when a motion was made as new business, the claim was made that, once again, there wasn't a quorum. A vote was taken 31 to 0 in favor of the motion. It still isn't clear to me what it means. The Faculty Senate has rarely seemed so irrelevant: as the big events flow around it, it accomplishes little or nothing.