ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) – Dozens of St. Louis University faculty members and students met on campus Monday night to discuss what comes next, after an overwhelming majority voted ‘no confidence’ in the school’s leadership last month.
Father Lawrence Biondi has led St. Louis University for more than two decades. When he chose to replace the provost with Vice President of Academic Affairs Manoj Patankar, SLU economics professor Bonnie Wilson says things changed. She explains, “For many years, Father Biondi had a very strong provost, who was able to guide academics in a positive way. Of late, we haven’t had that, and some of the moves that affect academics the most have been very troubling.”
Little by little, faculty and student complaints about Biondi and Patankar have been building. A recent proposal to revise tenure policies was the tipping point.
Students for No Confidence Spokesperson Liz Ramsey says, “The Faculty Senate has never voted ‘no confidence’ in the president. So this is an unprecedented vote.”
Now that both students and faculty have called for these resignations, they feel it’s time to bring the issue to the school's board of trustees. Ramsey says, “I’ve been told that it’s a useless cause, but we believe that we have opened up channels with the board of trustees that have never been opened before. For the first time this really secretive group has started talking...so we are hopeful.”
During Monday’s meeting, one professor pointed out that in only eight percent of similar ‘no confidence’ cases at other universities, did the board not replace the administrators whom students and faculty wanted gone.
As a next step in achieving their goal, Ramsey announced that the Students for No Confidence group will lead a march outside the board of trustees’ December 15th meeting.
Wilson remains hopeful that the board members, appointed by Biondi, will respond to the growing concerns on campus.
She explains, “We have a very smart board. They understand to do business takes cooperation and collaboration, and that’s what a Jesuit institution is about. So something will happen.”
Patankar sat in on Monday’s meeting, and listened to one faculty member directly ask him to resign. Patankar had no comment for FOX 2 on the ongoing ‘no confidence’ issue.