Results of no-confidence vote expected tonight

Posted on May 02, 2012 in News
By Noah Hurowitz

The results of the faculty-wide vote of no confidence in University of Southern Maine President Selma Botman will continue today, with results expected this evening.

The referendum was triggered by a petition signed by 53 senior faculty and given to Botman and the Faculty Senate April 4. Any petition receiving signatures from more than 10 percent of the faculty mandates a faculty-wide referendum according to senate bylaws.

The vote will be conducted with paper ballots, which have been mailed to all eligible faculty members. In order to protect against voter fraud and ensure anonymity, voters will enclose their ballots in an unmarked envelope and put that in an envelope sealed with their signature, which vote-counters will dispose of before opening the envelope with the ballot. Voters will be required to show a photo identification in order for their ballot to be counted.

It is remains unclear how the results of the vote will be called. There is confusion over language in the Faculty Senate bylaws about how many votes a position must receive in order to be considered representative of the will of the faculty. The bylaws state two-thirds of faculty must vote yes, but there is debate over whether that should be read as two-thirds of the total faculty or as two-thirds of those who cast ballots. While the bylaws simply state two-thirds of faculty, Robert’s Rules of Order, which the senate follows, states referenda pass if two-thirds of those who vote support them.

In a letter to faculty, Senate chair Jeannine Uzzi said the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, which is organizing the referendum, will not make any assertion about the meaning of the vote’s results unless the most conservative reading of the bylaws — two thirds of all faculty supporting the referendum — is reached.

“I’m charged with organizing the vote, not interpreting it,” Uzzi told The Free Press Friday. “We’re trying not to come down one way or another.”

No matter the results of the referendum, it is largely symbolic. The results will be given to the president, the University of Maine System Chancellor and the Board of Trustees.

“There is no procedural requirement for them to act upon it,” UMS Public Relations Manager Peggy Markson told The Free Press in an email Friday. “They do, however, take the vote expressed by the USM faculty very seriously, as the vote is an expression of the faculty’s sentiment.”