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Saint Mary’s faculty vote no confidence in president and chair

Members of the Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union (SMUFU) voted 91.1% in favour of a motion of no confidence in the university’s president and the chair of the board of governors on Tuesday.

Academic staff are decrying the administration’s lack of collegial governance as the university faces financial problems.

“SMUFU has made multiple requests to the administration for basic information about the financial condition of the university, but they have refused to be accountable and transparent about the true financial picture at Saint Mary’s,” said SMUFU President Cathy Conrad in a press release.

Conrad added that the union has exhausted internal efforts to raise their concerns, including working through the university senate and board of governors.

“This vote is a very big deal for our membership, and highlights that faculty, students and the community need immediate action and new leadership.”

SMUFU blames mismanagement for the university’s financial troubles. As debt has risen to $69 million from $47.3 million, the administration has paused a 20-year-old program providing students with on-campus employment. The university has also reduced scholarships as part of its plans to slash costs.

The union worked with external financial experts who found that increased spending on administrative salaries, external relations and capital projects contributed to the university’s $9.8 million deficit.

Last year, SMUFU requested Nova Scotia’s auditor general examine the university’s finances.

SMUFU represents 300 full-time professors, librarians and instructors.

The union will host a solidarity rally on April 11 from 1 to 2 p.m. in Halifax.