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Utica University board, union at odds on proposed cuts

Mike Jaquays
Staff writer
Posted 2/16/23

The Utica University Board of Trustees issued a statement Wednesday addressing the AAUP Utica union’s planned demonstration Friday at the university.

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Utica University board, union at odds on proposed cuts


UTICA — The Utica University Board of Trustees issued a statement Wednesday addressing the AAUP Utica union’s planned demonstration Friday at the university.

“The Board of Trustees is aware that members of our faculty collective bargaining unit, the AAUP Utica, have planned a protest this Friday against recommended changes to the university’s portfolio of academic majors,” the statement said. “The board has not, as of yet, taken action on these recommendations. Rather, we continue to work through a deliberative process that includes careful consideration of analyses of institutional and national data as well as a full range of viewpoints expressed in hundreds of comments submitted by faculty, students, staff and alumni.”

Academic portfolio review recommendations made Jan. 18 by the university’s Board of Trustees and university President Laura Casamento called for the elimination of 15 majors, plus the revision of eight other majors and one program at the university, if approved by the board. That vote is scheduled for Friday.

A “Rally to Save Utica” is also planned for Friday at Utica University, with faculty, students and concerned supporters invited to demonstrate outdoors on campus while the board meets and votes on the recommendations. The event begins at Duffy Plaza, with marches planned throughout the morning to Bell Hall, where the Board of Trustees meets.

Utica University Associate Professor of Philosophy Leonore Fleming is president of AAUP-Utica/AFT 6786, representing faculty, librarians and Higher Educational Opportunity Program counselors at the university. She said she disapproved of the review and the way it was formulated.

The faculty was told for six months that they would be provided a detailed report along with these academic program review recommendations, Fleming said. But on Jan. 18 none of that information was provided to them, she said, and Fleming said it was unclear why the process kept changing and why the information was withheld. 

The Faculty Senate of Utica University then voted 108-15 in a special meeting Jan. 25 to publicly censure the Board of Trustees and its Chair Bob Brvenik. They cited a “collective judgment of condemnation for the sidestepping of shared governance and proper curricular processes, as well as a formal public act of disapproval of the board’s unacceptable behavior” in deciding to “censure, disavow and formally express disapproval of the Utica University Board of Trustees’ leadership and conduct.”

A “Save Utica! Stop the Cuts!” petition on has gathered more than 1,300 signatures, Fleming said. 

This is an historic moment for Utica University, she noted.

“Faculty and students, and their many supporters, are speaking up and making their voices heard,” Fleming explained. “They are asking for transparency and explanation; they are asking to be part of the conversation. We’ll see on Friday if the Board of Trustees listens.”

The board declined to offer any additional comment beyond its statement until its final report is released to the campus community. That statement did stress it supports its faculty and their freedom to speak their own minds. “Utica University is an academic community that values and vigorously promotes and defends freedom of expression, civil discourse and dissenting opinion,” the Board of Trustees’ statement said. “The board has the highest respect for our faculty and their right to voice their opinion through public demonstration. Our faculty, administration and board share a deep and passionate concern for the interest of the university, our students and the communities we serve. We understand and admire this shared concern, knowing, at times, it unavoidably manifests in disagreement and protest.”


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