MnSCU: Winona St. no-confidence vote a surprise

Update: Kim Olson, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system’s chief marketing and communication officer, told me this evening that today’s announcement of a unanimous “no confidence” vote in MnSCU chancellor Steven Rosenstone by Winona State University faculty comes a bit out of the blue.

She wrote:

Although Chancellor Steven Rosenstone meets regularly with Inter Faculty Organization (IFO) leadership, we have not been formally contacted by any Winona faculty about a vote of “no confidence” or to discuss any concerns that would lead to a vote of this kind.  The WSU Faculty Association Senate is composed of approximately 28 faculty members (out of 18,000 MnSCU faculty and staff) on one of MnSCU’s 54 campuses. We’ve been in touch with the IFO’s state leadership and have been told it’s a local issue. News like this is always concerning, however, it will not distract from serving our students, their communities and the state of Minnesota.

According to a late-afternoon press release by Faculty Association President Darrell Downs, members voted unanimously, citing “a recurring pattern of secrecy in MnSCU decision making regarding the hiring of private consultants, questionable spending decisions by the System Office, and an unwillingness to incorporate greater student and faculty input into long term planning.”

Downs has been a public critic of Rosenstone’s plan to overhaul the way the system does business, saying it centralized power too much.

His announcement today states:

Faculty Senator, Bruce Svingen noted “Three years is too long to wait for the Chancellor to recognize that campus students, faculty, and staff need to be involved at the ground level of higher education decisions.”

It is the view of the Faculty Senate that WSU’s strength is in providing an excellent education to its students and serving its varied communities.  However pursuing a costly long-term planning agenda without sufficient public funding dedicated to that purpose and without fully transparent decision making unnecessarily jeopardizes this university.

WSU Faculty Association President, Darrell Downs, said “he had hoped that the Chancellor’s management style would provide more openness and more directly engage students and faculty in long term planning.”

This vote of “no confidence” in the leadership of the Chancellor sends a message to the Chancellor, as well as to the MnSCU Board of Trustees, that WSU’s distinctive mission in higher education is best preserved though open and fully transparent decision making led by students, faculty, and staff.