Saturday, October 21st, 2017

Over half of faculty voted no confidence in President Botman

President Selma Botman at the most Faculty Senate meeting in Lewiston on April 6.
Alex Greenlee | The Free Press
President Selma Botman at the most Faculty Senate meeting in Lewiston on April 6.

Posted on May 02, 2012 in News
By Noah Hurowitz

Over half of all faculty at the University of Southern Maine cast votes saying they don’t have confidence in USM President Selma Botman.

The vote needed a two-thirds majority to pass and be considered the will of the faculty. But with a voter turnout of about 75 percent, over 68 percent of faculty who voted cast ballots of no confidence in Botman.

The Faculty Senate Executive Committee will submit the results to the University of Maine System Chancellor James Page and the board of trustees.

The no-confidence referendum was triggered by a group of senior faculty who circulated a petition in early April calling for the vote, receiving 53 signatures, more than the 10 percent of all faculty required for a petition to mandate a referendum.

Botman released a statement around after the vote was tallied saying it didn’t receive the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

“Our challenges remain and we must, as a community, address them and we will do so,” she said in the statement.

Faculty began casting their ballots Tuesday at locations in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston, and voting closed today at 4 p.m. Ronald Schmidt, a political science professor and the media contact for the Faculty Senate, released the results to The Free Press this evening after the committee tasked with counting ballots released the results to the Executive Committee.

“I think this says there is intense disagreement over the future direction of the university,” Schmidt said. “Everybody needs time to think about what these numbers mean, and then we need to start talking.”

Former-Student Body President Chris Camire, who has been a vocal supporter of Botman, said he was disappointed to hear how many members of faculty voted no confidence.

“Obviously something is broken at USM, but the faculty would rather take a destructive path than a constructive one,” Camire told The Free Press on Wednesday night. “I think there would have been a better way to let the president know how some faculty feel.”

Faculty Senate Chair Jeannine Uzzi said she believes the results of the vote are less important than the fact the referendum was held in the first place.

“The petition itself was an historic event,” Uzzi said. “The percentage of senior faculty who signed it was a serious statement of concern, and the [University of Maine System] chancellor got that message.”

There has been disagreement over how to read the end results, because the Faculty Senate bylaws state a referendum must receive support from two-thirds of all faculty in order to represent the will of the faculty, while Robert’s Rules of Order, which the Senate follows, calls for two-thirds of only those who vote.

Schmidt said the Executive Committee doesn’t wish to involve itself in interpreting the results.

“We see our task as making sure the vote is transparent and legitimate,” he said. “We’re not setting ourselves up as the interpreters of the dispute in the governance documents. The board of trustees can decide for themselves.”

The committee charged with counting the votes had members appointed by the major stake holders in the issue. President Botman appointed Martha Freeman, chief human resources officer, the senate executive committee appointed professor of economics Michael Hillard, and the faculty petitioners who triggered the no-confidence vote appointed professor of physics Jerry LaSala. Professor of law Chris Knott will join the committee as an overseer.


Vote Results:

For no confidence: 194 votes
Against no confidence: 88 votes
Total: 284 with two invalid ballots
Voter turnout: 284 out of 377 total USM faculty


  • Enough ammunition for Chancellor Page to welcome her early retirement from the post.  Time to merge the place with SMCC anyway… that’s where all the students have been fleeing to for the past few years.  Pogo has no clothes.

  • Jenn

    Are you kidding? Logically, the vast majority who didn’t vote were afraid of punitive measures for voting no confidence. With all the hub-bub, anyone who was pro Botman would have made sure to vote. what you have there is 88 people for botman, 194 against and the rest terrified of retribution. 

  • Anonymous

    Not good news for her nibs. Where there’s smoke there’s fire and she needs to pay attention to the reaction of the faculty. Perhaps she could show her own good faith and release the public relations full time employee as an act of contrition – hyping the voting populace while blowing wads on her own agenda/aggrandizement. Also, I’m wondering who “guarded” the votes Tuesday night and who did the actual counting here.

  • a part-time worker

    Does this result mean that USM as a community accepts the unequal distribution of salary systems and benefits? Do USM workers accept the budget cuts that the president has been advocating, whereas some administrators enjoy salary increases? It seems that the result indicates that USM will be a source of social inequality in the City of Portland. This is just a prediction based on my humble knowledge…

  • Anonymous

    I am lol that so many liberals were too lazy to vote for something they cared so little about.

  • F

    What a bunch of cry babies, and they are supposedly educated, yeah right.

  • F

    Awwww, those poor faculty members will have to work for her again.  The well-to-do who supposedly teach, well half the time anyway, will just have to spend a little more time puffing their chests out (this is supposed to be a great profession) and swallow it. 

  • JustAGnome

    Could it be that there is a disconnect in the curriculum offered and successful job placement? Which disciplines have the highest hiring rates for graduates and what are their starting salaries? If higher education is intended to increase the opportunities for students than some objective metric needs to be employed to determine which programs have productive value. If the majority of jobs are to be found in the private for-profit sector it would make sense to build a curriculum based on the needs of those employers. The escalating rates of unemployment by graduates would indicate the university system needs major reforms.

  • TJ Williams

    I want students to type or record their thoughts on President Botman, the vote of no confidence, and USM as a whole.Then send it to me so I can hear what the students have to say –

  • Student body president is a paid position? damn nobody told me. 

  • Jenn

    Hhhmm I wonder why 93 faculty didn’t vote….. Seems like if they were all about Botman, they would have voted. They probably opted out of voting no to avoid retribution……

  • Tom the Barabarian

    Yes. As we all know, questions are destructive. It’s best to shut up and let the managerial class do it’s job. Camire is an apologist for the destruction of thoughtful education and he’s PAID to do it! Next year someone should actually run against this cabal of conservative assholes. Maybe we can up the stakes so that it’ll take more than 173 votes to win next time. What a joke.

  • Tom the Barbarian

    Camire is a paid lapdog for the administration and has absolutely no idea what students are thinking. He’ll make a great politician. 

  • I am disappointed in Chris Camire’s reaction. He is right when he says there is obviously something broken at USM but what this vote points to is that what is broken lies at the administrative level. What is destructive is that the university has a president that over half the faculty have no confidence in, not that said faculty simply voiced that concern of no confidence. Camire would rather place the blame those pointing out the problems than actually address the problems themselves.