Heated meeting between UT faculty senate, President John Petersen

By: Liz Tedone
By: Liz Tedone

Knoxville (WVLT) - It's not a secret the faculty at the University of Tennessee is upset with President John Petersen. This after the sudden resignation of Chancellor Loren Crabtree earlier this month.

Volunteer TV's Liz Tedone has more on the heated faculty senate meeting.

This was the first regularly scheduled faculty senate meeting since Chancellor Crabtree's unpopular resignation. President Petersen says he came to Tuesday's meeting expecting senate members to be upset, but he was surprised by the non-scientific survey that was passed around.

"I mean I wouldn't like the person if the questions were phrased this way in terms of what that individual was doing," Petersen said.

President John Petersen faces the faculty senate and it's unscientific survey results. A majority of the 1,100 surveyed say they're dissatisfied with Petersen's performance, and they reveal "absolutely no confidence" or "limited confidence" in his ability to lead UT in the future.

"I thought it wasn't worded really well, and I've never seen a survey in which all the negative, start at the negative and you go down and that's usually not how you do it," Petersen said.

"Whether the survey was entirely accurate or not, it certainly reflects the sense of the campus, the sense of the faculty," UT Faculty Senate President-Elect John Nolt said.

Petersen says he came to the meeting expecting a negative response.

"The fact the chancellor's gone, and they're upset about it and they should be if you like the chancellor, you hate to lose somebody that's good," Petersen said.

But faculty members say Crabtree's resignation is only part of their gripe. There are other issues like insufficient IT service on campus, outdated budget software for research, and overall lack of communication from the president's office.

"My intersection with the campus and their day to day operation really isn't very much at all or there, my role is to go out and enterprise in an external fashion," Petersen said.

But faculty members are planning to hold him accountable.

"These are PhD's, and professors and law professors, and I don't know how you ignore that many individuals who are expressing a lack of confidence in this leadership," UT Faculty Senate President David Patterson said.

The faculty senate will meet next Monday for further discussion. A resolution on a "vote of no confidence" could be brought before the senate at that time for debate and a vote. If it were to go through, the Board of Trustees would then decide the next step, and this would be unprecedented.


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