UT board backs DiPietro in chancellor firing condemned by Faculty Senate

The outgoing University of Tennessee board of trustees passed a resolution Thursday giving a vote of full confidence to UT President Joe DiPietro, reports the Associated Press. The move was a direct response to the Faculty Senate’s censure of the president for ousting the flagship school’s first female chancellor.

Vice Chairman Raja Jubran said DiPietro had always had the best interest of the UT system at heart and had restored confidence in the office of the presidency.

“Joe has been a tireless advocate and supporter of faculty across the UT System, and has approached every matter with the goal of doing what was in the best interest of the institution,” Jubran said. “I think it’s extremely important to set the record straight and commend Joe for everything he has done for the University.”

In its decision to censure DiPietro’s action Monday, the faculty Senate accused him of failing to be transparent on controversial issues such as outsourcing jobs on campuses and the post-tenure review of professors. But it also mentioned the termination letter DiPietro sent to then-Chancellor Beverly Davenport. Some Senate members who read it said they found its tone blistering and highly personal. The letter was released in response to a public records request.

In it, DiPietro rated as “very poor” Davenport’s one-on-one, small-group and business-transactional communication skills. He also said she had a poor relationship with him and his leadership team, had been unable to acclimate to the UT system, lacked organization, and failed to communicate a strategic vision for the campus. Davenport was placed on administrative leave with pay until June 30, and is to be reassigned as a faculty member in the university’s college of communication and information.

… The United Campus Workers, a union of higher education employees, has condemned the firing of Davenport, calling it retaliation for her opposition to the outsourcing of jobs on campus, a move pushed by Gov. Bill Haslam.

Haslam and Jubran both have said the outsourcing issue played no part in her dismissal. At Thursday’s board meeting, Jubran asserted that this was nothing more than a toxic rumor that had spread on campus. And former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe wrote columns criticizing Davenport’s leadership in the local news media.

The union wasn’t buying it.

“Jubran, DiPietro and Haslam can all swear that they won’t keep pursuing a privatization agenda, but the fact is they’ve fired the one person in the administration who took action to stop it, and liquidated the board that did not overturn her decision (though cuts are being forced by DiPietro and Jubran in retaliation),” union leaders said in a statement Thursday.

5 Responses to UT board backs DiPietro in chancellor firing condemned by Faculty Senate

  • Avatar
    Steve L. says:

    And why shouldn’t Davenport defy the President of the University, the Governor of the State, and at the same time offending the moral standards of the tuition paying parents of the students? Her long and illustrious career at Tennessee gives her that right. It was why we brought her here. To fix all the stuff this poor misguided Red Sate has been messing up before she got here. But, actually, she does not have a long career at Tennessee, is not a long time resident of the state and would rather curry favor with fringe liberal nuts than the hard working parents that make this state great. The fair question I have for Di Pietro is, WHY DID YOU HIRE THIS INCOMPETENT to start with? Seriously, I would like to know. Did someone make him? Was she chosen by a committee and he was stuck with her? What a huge fail.

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    Tommy Ray McAnally says:

    HELL,FIRE ME AND SCREW ME WITH A $345,000 a year job. How awful you think she can by?

  • Avatar
    Eddie White says:

    I’m sorry, but I am tired of hearing about”nationwide searches”. What if we hired a Tennessean to run Tennessee’s flagship university? Is that such a novel idea? Maybe that person would have some identity with the people who send their kids to UT, support the athletic programs, and generally think that UTK is worth supporting. It might also help with the strained relationships with the state legislature. If nothing else, it might be a person who has some “Tennessee common sense and values” to go along with their formal education!

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