The College of Saint Rose faculty voted earlier this week to send a letter to newly elected Chair of the Board of Trustees, Sister Mary Anne Heenan, calling for the Board to immediately remove President Carolyn Stefanco from her position.
The letter, sent via email to Heenan on Wednesday morning, was also delivered by Stefanco and Margaret McLane, the College’s provost. A member of the faculty’s Representative Committee provided the letter to The Chronicle, and asked not to be named out of fear of retribution. The letter was drafted by the committee.
‘We are writing to express our dismay and genuine alarm that the Board of Trustees continues to support Carolyn J. Stefanco in her role as President,” the committee wrote, “Even after the resignation of the former Board Chair and four other Trustees.”
The College confirmed that the number of recent board resignations sits at five, not six, as the Albany Times Union reported last week. Trustees Judith Calogero, Timothy Fenton, Tonita McKone, Michael Miller, and Gregory Serio have resigned since Nov. 1, according to Saint Rose Director of Marketing and Communications at the College.
The faculty voted online, with 78 in favor of sending the letter and 40 opposed. There were 15 abstentions. They also voted 98 to 29, with nine abstentions, to express their gratitude and support to the Trustees who resigned. About 40 faculty members did not vote for various reasons, said Kathleen Crowley, Co-Chair of the Representative Committee.
In the letter, the Representative Committee cited decreased enrollment and a now $12.5 million deficit as examples of failed leadership under Stefanco, but expressed a conditional willingness to work with the Trustees.
“It is critical to understand that the faculty are desperate to work with the board to save our beloved College of Saint Rose,” the committee wrote, “But in order to do so we are imploring the remaining members of the Board of Trustees to PLEASE remove the President and replace her leadership team with a new transition team to guide the College as we seek a new President.
“We fear the College will soon reach a point of no return if action is not taken immediately,” it read.
The committee listed nine “critical facts that reveal the bankruptcy of Carolyn Stefanco’s ‘leadership,'” ranging from “a pervasive climate of fear and mistrust,” to the increasing deficit, to an unprecedented amount of resignations throughout the college, according to the letter.
This is the third time the faculty have voted to request the President’s termination or resignation, or the expression of no confidence in her by the Board, Crowley said Wednesday. She also said the faculty “do not take these actions lightly.
“The faculty would not take these measures if they thought it would cause more harm than good,” she said.
Crowley added that the recent resignations suggest that the President’s divisiveness, which she said extends to staff and mid-level administration, has reached the board level.
In a statement provided by the college, Heenan reaffirmed her commitment to working with Stefanco, and also addressed the motions and letter.
“Faculty calls for the removal (of President Stefanco or of college leaders) are an unproductive distraction from the critical work at hand,” Heenan said, “The challenges Saint Rose faces are the same challenges many institutions of higher education face. They were not created by one individual or one group; nor will they be resolved by blaming one individual or one group.”
The College also provided a statement from Normal Massry, vice chair no I of the Board of Trustees.
“I hope the majority of our faculty will reflect on whether generating turmoil that may damage our enrollment efforts is in the best interest of our students, our college, our community, and our faculty,” Massry said.
Faculty will be holding a candle light vigil outside the administration building at 1000 Madison avenue at 4 p.m. on Friday.