SUNY-ESF governing body votes no confidence in President Quentin Wheeler

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Ninety two out of 157 people voted they lose confidence in SUNY-ESF President Quentin Wheeler's leadership.

UPDATED: Nov. 6 at 6:03 p.m.

The SUNY-ESF Academic Governance body has voted no confidence in President Quentin Wheeler.

Of the 157 who voted, 92 people — about 59 percent— voted they lose confidence in Wheeler’s leadership. Fifty-five voted they have confidence in his leadership, while 10 abstained and 18 did not vote. There were 175 total potential voters, which included faculty, staff and students.

The vote does not remove Wheeler from his position but instead is a clear sign to university stakeholders of the community’s views on him.

“There is no question that there have been concerns on campus about the best direction for ESF,” Wheeler said in a press release after the result was announced. “One thing is clear: We all believe in ESF. We will continue to engage the faculty, staff and students in enhancing our academic, research and demonstration programs.”

Wheeler also said a meeting will be scheduled for next week for all members of the community to share ideas.

The voting took place in the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Gateway C from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, but absentee ballots have been collected for the last ten days. The vote — which was originally going to be electronic — was a paper ballot because there was a motion at the last college-wide meeting to change the vote from “electronic” to “secret,” said Heidi Webb, library technician at ESF.

The votes were counted by Tom Amidon, current Academic Governance executive chair; Kelley Donaghy, former chair; Bob Meyer, professor in the department of paper and bioprocessing engineering; and two independent observers, according to the Academic Governance website.

The vote of no confidence comes after months of growing tension and frustration among ESF’s faculty and staff with Wheeler’s leadership. A bill of particulars, released in February 2016, listed Wheeler’s failures with the strategic plan, obtaining funding, managing financial resources, his “problematic relationship” with the board of trustees and other examples of poor leadership, including creating “a climate of fear on campus in terms of retaliation for speaking out against his agenda.”


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