FARGO — Faculty have voted out one of their leaders who questioned whether the head of North Dakota State University had acted inappropriately when he filled the provost position with an administrator who initially did not want the job.
In a 35-8 vote, the NDSU Faculty Senate removed Spanish professor Carlos Hawley as its president on Monday, Oct. 19.
President-elect Florin Salajan, who also is a professor in teacher education, will replace Hawley effective immediately.
Hawley's removal comes after he started an investigation into what he called “a pattern of blatant abuse of policy” by university President Dean Bresciani. Documents and Hawley suggested the senate was on a path to consider a vote of no confidence against Bresciani after he hired interim Provost Margaret Fitzgerald to fill the position in the long term.
The hiring decision was announced Oct. 2 after a nationwide search that produced more than 100 applicants and five finalists, but Fitzgerald did not apply for the position. The top candidate was unavailable until June, Bresciani said, adding none of the other candidates had strong support from the search committee or campus.
So he chose Fitzgerald, saying the university needed a strong leader immediately. She accepted and will make an annual salary of $317,370, according to NDSU.
The search cost more than $91,000, according to figures obtained from NDSU by The Forum.
The following week, Hawley sent an email from the search committee suggesting it thought three other candidates were viable to take the position. That prompted faculty to question Bresciani's decision because Fitzgerald was not presented to the committee, nor was she made available for a public forum where faculty could question her.
"To make this crucial decision without allowing a search committee or the faculty to review the credentials of that candidate, interview that candidate and provide feedback on that candidate violates … shared governance,” Hawley said in a statement to the senate on Monday.
Several senators criticized how Hawley handled preparing for a potential no-confidence vote, suggesting he did it too quickly and without consulting faculty. He called an executive committee meeting the week following the provost announcement.
A letter also was drafted to inform the North Dakota University System that laid out details of the no-confidence proposal.
The senate was slated to discuss the provost's dismissal on Oct. 12, but that was put off after the senate voted last week to start the process of removing Hawley.
Others criticized him for speaking with The Forum, saying that was the first time they heard about potential action against Bresciani.
Those who supported dismissing Hawley claimed he was responsible for failed communications between himself and Bresciani.
“I find it especially troubling that the terms 'shared governance' and 'communication' and 'relationship' are used in (Hawley’s statement), because that is exactly what the (senate) president has failed to exhibit,” said David Ripplinger, professor of agribusiness and applied economics.
Hawley said in his statement no specific charge was mounted against him in the motion to remove him.
A vote to remove Hawley was “an intentional distraction from attempts to hold Bresciani accountable," Kent Rodgers said in conveying opposition to the senate president's dismissal from colleagues. The professor in chemistry and biochemistry said the NDSU president shut Hawley out.
“If we vote Carlos out of the presidency of the faculty senate because the president of the university refuses to talk with him, I think shared governance takes a hit,” he said.
Monday’s meeting was about Hawley's conduct, not Bresciani’s conduct, which can be addressed later, said Birgit Pruess, professor in microbiological sciences.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and there’s a lot of burnt bridges that I see,” animal sciences professor Eric Berg said.
English professor Holly Hassel said she is not opposed to a no-confidence vote against Bresciani.
“That is something that requires very careful planning. ... If that’s something you want to pursue, you don’t slap it together in five days. And that is what happened," she said.
The executive committee is committed to continuing its investigation into the provost hire, Past President Molly Secor-Turner said.