The unstable state of higher education has contributed to faculty dissatisfaction with Doane University’s president, the chief executive said.
Doane President Jacque Carter said last week that rising costs, the technological revolution, demographic changes in the student body and competition for a fairly flat number of high school graduates have put pressure on all colleges and universities.
You have to adapt, he said, and a college president must hang in there.
“When you sign up for the Army, sometimes war breaks out,” he said.
Some Doane faculty members this fall expressed discontentment with Carter’s performance and suggested that a vote of professors’ confidence — or lack thereof — be taken.
Of professors who responded to a Doane Faculty Council survey this month, more than half said they have little or no confidence in Carter’s leadership. That wasn’t a formal vote, however.
The Doane board of trustees has officially backed Carter. Board Chairwoman Jill Smith said that Carter and the faculty should “work together to improve communication to move Doane forward.”
Carter said he was pleased with the board’s endorsement.
“I had confidence that they would see the good that we were doing here and reaffirm that,” Carter said Wednesday. He said Doane changed from a college to a university last year. That meant installing deans, and it changed the system of communication, he said.
“I’m an optimist,” he said. “I believe that we’ll get a good handle on that this year.”
Ten Doane faculty members recently wrote a seven-page statement in opposition to Carter, who has been at the university in Crete since 2011.
The statement said Doane has “tremendous potential” but that the university won’t progress “with an ineffective and divisive leader.”
Among many criticisms, the statement says Carter has failed to raise money; that partnerships with Chinese universities have produced few students; that a College of Professional Studies program in Omaha has only 25 undergraduates; that Carter micromanages and retaliates; and that he shows little interest in Doane students or their academic needs.
Cole Bauer of Fairbury, Nebraska, a junior studying history and journalism, said students are interested in the conflict between Carter and faculty members.
Bauer said Doane has excellent faculty members, and when professors make assertions against the president, “it has a lot of influence on the students.”
Bauer, who writes for the Doane student body’s online paper, said Carter “is not necessarily popular or unpopular with the students, but it seems that many students don’t know him on a personal level.”
Doane has about 1,070 students this fall. Doane had about 1,050 in 2010, the year before Carter arrived.
Timothy Hill, a political science professor and head of Doane’s Faculty Council, said the Doane board’s support of Carter changes the situation.
“And how the faculty reacts to that is still a question mark,” Hill said. The Faculty Council wants to work with Carter, he said, even if professors have expressed concern about the president’s openness, communication style and other things.
Carter, 64, described a variety of projects taking place in a short period, resulting in flux at Doane.
The college president said he is in the “quiet phase” of raising money for theater and music facilities.
Doane started a four-year program in engineering last year. The university is making major investments in online education, he said.
Doane seeks to expand its international partnerships and recruitment to include institutions in China, Japan and Panama, he said.
Sometimes faculty members have inadequate or inaccurate information, he said, and working out lines of communication better will improve that.