Deciphering the University Senate’s “no confidence” vote against Wildes

Colleen Dulle

After the most recent vote of “no confidence” against the Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J., university president, some Loyola students and faculty are wondering what the vote means for them.

While a vote of “no confidence” could begin the process of replacing the university president, hiring and firing power rests in the Board of Trustees, who issued a vote of confidence in Wildes in November. Representatives from the University Senate have stated there will not be any immediately noticeable changes for students, but Wildes told The Maroon that he hoped to address some of the concerns faculty had raised about his visibility. “I’m going to keep doing a lot of what I’ve been doing, but I will make conscious effort to be more intentional, obvious and present,” he said, citing that he will continue to teach medical ethics, and hopes to attend more sports games and eat more frequently with students in the Orleans Room.

Wildes said if he had his way, he would teach undergraduates more often, but that this is difficult due to his fundraising schedule. He estimates that he spends about half of his time fundraising, often outside New Orleans. Wildes said, “Because we do not have a rich tradition of fundraising, I think it’s a new adjustment for people, the fact that I’m on the road as much as I am,” referring to Loyola’s lack of a capital campaign in the two decades before Faith in the Future launched. Wildes has also invited students to participate in his small group listening sessions which began last semester, and said he would be open to hearing from students both in and outside the SGA. Joelle Underwood, associate professor of chemistry, proposed the senate’s motion and hopes that, if Wildes is not replaced, the vote will at least open lines of communication between the board and faculty.

“I think that in the short term, hopefully, the Board of Trustees will start to realize and hear another voice other than just Father Wildes’ voice about what’s happening at Loyola,” Underwood said, adding that she has recently seen faculty and students grow more involved in university happenings outside the classroom.

Wildes said he wants to invite faculty members and Student Affairs staff to an upcoming board meeting to explain their work and research, which he thinks will “deepen the relationship between board, faculty and staff.”

Several board members also attended the university senate meeting on Jan. 21, where the vote of “no confidence” was made.

Jon Altschul, chair of the university senate and associate professor of philosophy, said that the dialogue between the board and the faculty has been improved by this vote.

“This motion has sparked a lot of valuable and constructive discussion about how to better serve our students and provide them with the best possible educational experience,” Altschul said.

Wildes said the focus should be placed on what would improve the university.

“It’s one of those things where we have to realize we’re all in this together, and we have to do this for the importance of the success of Loyola, not me,” Wildes said.