Faculty vote no confidence in University ISS director

Ben Fitch

The faculty senate passed a “vote of no confidence” in Information Systems and Services director Michael Gunter during a meeting on April 13. The senate voted 27-3, with three abstentions.

“It was a pretty clear expression of faculty discontent,” said Tom Prasch, faculty senate president.

Prasch said the main problem was a “fundamental lack of trust” in Gunter.

“Faculty didn’t feel that they could depend on him to do what he said he would do,” said Prasch.

The issue began at the Jan. 18 faculty senate meeting, and was described as a result of Gunter repeatedly initiating policies and procedures “that interfere with faculty research and scholarship, academic computing, classroom teaching, library access, faculty privacy, academic freedom, and faculty and student rights to intellectual property.”

The agenda also said that faculty members had “repeatedly been met with stonewalling, dishonesty and a failure to amend such behaviors and policies” when they had approached Gunter for redress.

The action item was forwarded to Wanda Hill, vice president of administration and treasury; Robin Bowen, vice president of academic affairs; and Jerry Farley, WU president.

The agenda was removed from the Washburn Web site because of possible legal concerns related to slanderous statements that were documented.

Specifically, some faculty members addressed complaints to Prasch that Gunter seemed agreeable in person when confronted with issues, but then did nothing to resolve them. And as the agenda states, “some were more direct: ‘he lied to my face.'”

Other comments about Gunter were that he was “unstable,” that he “could not be trusted,” and that he appeared to be “dodging” questions.

Furthermore, there were documented complaints that ISS had altered faculty members’ computers and “commandeered” access to technology that was purchased by faculty.

Gunter said he did not want to comment on the allegations because it would not change the outcome of the situation.

However, ISS sent a memo to the administration regarding the vote. It addresses problems raised by faculty such as general policies, computer systems, and service failures. The memo responds to most of the complaints with explanations of network systems, policies and downward communication flow from higher administration. Regarding the direct complaints against Gunter, there is no response besides “personal attack.”

The vote’s influence on Gunter’s employment with the University is up to the administration.

“I don’t think our vote of no confidence will have an impact on [Hill],” said Russel Jacobs, former faculty senate president.

Jacobs said the same issues had been addressed during his term.

“At some point, faculty members feel that something has to be done,” he said. “It’s partly a matter of frustration.”

Hill said she was waiting on a letter from the faculty senate regarding their vote and because of the nature of personnel issues, “any comment would not be appropriate.”