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Archive for Saturday, December 4, 2004

UMKC chancellor resigns after no-confidence votes

December 4, 2004

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— The chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City resigned Friday after a series of no-confidence votes from faculty groups.

Martha Gilliland, 60, said she was stepping down to allow the university, one of four in the University of Missouri system, to "move forward and achieve great progress without distraction." She will keep her tenured job as a professor in the School of Computing and Engineering.

"I am grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support I have received from this remarkable community," she said in a statement. "Together we have achieved great things, and I am confident the university will maintain the same momentum into the future."

Last month, no-confidence votes were cast by four faculty groups: the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Law, the Bloch School of Business and Public Administration, and part-time faculty. The School of Biological Sciences reaffirmed its no-confidence vote; the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors also said it did not support Gilliland.

After the votes, system President Elson Floyd met privately with deans, student leaders and about 300 university staff members. He said a university leader must have faculty support, though he said he did not want to make a hasty decision on Gilliland.

Floyd on Friday thanked Gilliland for "her vision and service." Floyd said he would be dividing his time between Columbia and Kansas City during January and February and would make a decision about an interim chancellor then.

Problems

Gilliland angered staff shortly after she arrived in April 2000. Some questioned her decision to pay a California consultant, also a friend, more than $500,000 in privately raised money to lead workshops in which the faculty was asked to dream big for the university.

She has continued to clash with staff. Most recently, professors said they should have been consulted on the details of a paper that suggests ways to radically restructure the university.

Supporters

Gilliland had her supporters, including the UMKC Board of Trustees, a private group of local business and civic leaders that raises money for the school. The group lauded Gilliland for having a strong vision in a resolution passed Wednesday night backing her as chancellor. During her tenure, the school has opened a new 550-bed dormitory and broken ground for a new health sciences building on the city's Hospital Hill.

The group urged faculty to mediate their differences with the chancellor.

Alan Atterbury, chairman of the UMKC Board of Trustees, said he was disappointed that didn't happen.

"She recognized the link between the future of our city and the future of the university," he said. "For an urban university to achieve greatness it really has to be bonded with and place a high value on the interest of the community. She put those goals into action."

'A better place'

Gilliland opponent Jim Durig, who is the chairman of the College of Arts and Sciences faculty group, also praised Gilliland for the new dormitory and rebuilding relationships with the community.

When Gilliland arrived, she was the school's first permanent chancellor since February 1998, when Eleanor Schwartz resigned after a problem-plagued year. Some neighbors had displayed "UMKC Kills Our Homes" signs in their yards and on their vehicles' bumpers to protest the school's attempt to tear down about 50 homes for a temporary parking lot.

But under Gilliland's watch, Durig said, committees that made recommendations to the chancellor were stacked so the true faculty opinions never got to her. In other cases, he said, faculty recommendations were disregarded.

Despite the no-confidence votes, Ray Coveney in the College of Arts and Sciences said Gilliland had a "huge amount of support from faculty members."

"UMKC," he said, "is a much better place as a result of her leadership for the past five years."

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