In a rare appearance outside her locked Madison Avenue castle, President Stefanco joined WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas for an interview on Tuesday.
An interview of Saint Rose Professor Angela Ledford, an outspoken critic of Stefanco’s administration, aired on WAMC on Monday.
Among the topics discussed in Stefanco’s interview were accusations from faculty that the president has not been transparent in her leadership. Her responses to these questions were concerning.
“It’s hard for me to see that I am not, or we have not been transparent,” she said.
This comment came just two weeks after Stefanco notified the faculty by email of the mysterious departure of Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Barbara Schirmer, writing that Schirmer had “concluded her service six weeks early.”.
Director of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Gish was asked about this by the Chronicle days before the President’s email was sent, with little success.
“This is something I am unaware of,” Gish said.
Repeated follow-up attempts went unanswered.
This is one of many examples of this administration’s shift toward isolation from the rest of the campus.
To learn of another example of her lack of transparency, the president need not look further than her own front door.
Soon after Stefanco took office, the administration building was locked, and now to gain entry, visitors must ring a doorbell and wait for someone to greet them.
This protocol is unique to the Stefanco Administration. Under former presidents, members of the campus community were free to enter at will.
Stefanco doubled down on her love for transparency later in the interview.
“I’m sure I have a lot of faults,” she said, “I wouldn’t say that lack of transparency is among them.”
Many at Saint Rose Disagree.
At an April meeting, the faculty voted 63-29 to send a letter to the Board of Trustees calling for the replacement of Stefanco as the college’s president. There were nine abstentions.
In the interview, Stefanco said the faculty is not a “monolithic group” and that 80 members did not attend the meeting, thereby further denying the existence of a much fractured Saint Rose community.
However, the concerns of the faculty were echoed in June 2016 when the American Association for University Professors added Saint Rose to its censure list, saying that the administration violated the principles of academic freedom and tenure.
As mentioned by the President, colleges and universities across the country are facing similar problems; problems that can never be solved with confrontation or lack of communication.
The great sense of community that existed just three years ago was what brought me and many others to Saint Rose. Now, this environment of resentment and mistrust is driving others away.
As students, we must not look away and we must not ignore what is going on. Regardless of what side of the issue you are on, you should make your voice heard. This is our institution as well, and we also have the right to be involved.
Saint Rose must stick to its roots, which includes togetherness and shared governance. A college cannot be run from the top down. Everyone needs to be involved, and no one should be shut out.
Denying the existence of a problem never leads to its solution. Disagreements need to be discussed, and dialogue needs to be open, or else the sinking ship will continue to sink, and the captain will be at fault.