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"Faculty-written blog calls for vote of no confidence in President Shelton, Provost Hay"

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President Robert Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay field questions last year from those in attendance at a town hall meeting held in the Student Union Memorial Center to address the much talked about issue of campus restructuring.

UA faculty and staff ""concerned about abuses of power at the UA,"" have created an anonymous blog as a place to ""speak only, without fear of reprisals.""


Juan R. Garcia, a professor of history who posts on the Blogspot.com site, ""UA Defender,"" said he knows the site's founders, and many faculty, staff, and even a few administrators, who post on the blog.


The site's users feel they can't speak openly about the administration because, ""there is a culture of fear on this campus,"" Garcia said.


Faculty and staff fear dismissals and retaliation for speaking openly about President Robert Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay, he said.


Garcia cites his own experience as an example of why faculty may be afraid to question the administration. The professor was forced out as Vice President for Instruction in June following an e-mail exchange in which he criticized Hay's decision making in the project that created classes in Centennial Hall.


Garcia, and several blog posters, allege there are others with similar stories who have been fired for speaking out against the administration.


However, Garcia said his colleagues have asked him not to discuss their particular situations with the media.


""I'm one, but there are others,"" he said.


The blog documents growing resistance among some faculty and staff to Shelton and Hay.


The site's author, writing under the pseudonym Evelyn B. Hall, posted that ""four month's (sic) into her tenure as provost, the deans were ready to oust Meredith Hay over her budget over-reaching.""


Among the blog's most serious allegations: UA department heads gave Hay an unofficial straw vote of ""no confidence"" last fall semester.


The blog states that although the deans may have been powerful enough at the time to stand up to Hay, they decided to ""give her a break,"" after which the provost replaced many of them.


The blog also states it is ""imperative"" that faculty and staff move this semester for a vote of ""no confidence"" in Hay and Shelton.


Posters to the blog also expressed frustration with Hay taking over the General Education program at the university.


The University-Wide General Education Committee, which had overseen the UA's General Education program, has seen its abilities and responsibilities shrink as the Provost's Office exerts more control, the blog said.


The blog's author said the general education committee was originally told it would be disbanded. But after some members protested, the committee was told it would remain, but take a submissive role to Hay's decision-making on General Education matters, the blog said.


Faculty should decide curriculum, the blog states, not administration.


""Let's be clear. That's not the way it's done,"" the UA Defender said. ""It's wrong. It is illegal. It will not stand.""


After first accepting an interview request, the Provost's Office deferred comment to Johnny Cruz, media relations director for University Communications, who also declined comment.


""We can't comment on that right now,"" Cruz said.


An e-mail sent to Shelton's office seeking comment Thursday afternoon was not returned by press time.


Garcia stressed that ""UA Defender"" is not an attack site, but dedicated to a civil discussion of the issues facing campus.


""I know the people are determined to keep it civilized. We will not devolve to personal attacks,"" Garcia said. ""People commenting are encouraged to speak to the welfare of the UA community.""


As the blog gains exposure, Garcia said hopes faculty feel more comfortable to voice their grievances.


""People are waiting to see what happens to the leaders,"" he said.


The blog's authors assure posters that the UA can't track who writes on the blog, especially if it's written from a non-UA e-mail account.


""It is safe,"" Garcia said. ""But people are being careful because they are highly vulnerable.""


The professor himself said he isn't afraid to put his own name behind his opinion.


""I don't like bullies,"" Garcia said. ""And this administration is a bully. Hay is a bully. They won't back down unless you confront them.""

 


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