Professors in the University of Iowa College of Education have voted no confidence in Margaret Crocco, the dean of that college, and the Des Moines Register reports that later two senior university leaders ordered the destruction of documents critical of Crocco.
No confidence votes are rare in academia.
Update: UI Provost Denies Destroying Records; College of Education Faculty Members Resign From Committee
"Given that a no confidence vote is virtually unparalleled in the history of the College of Education, it indicates a deep concern in the leadership of Dean Crocco," Elizabeth Altmaier, a professor of psychological and quantitative foundations in that college, said in an interview with Patch.
Altmaier declined to get into the nature of the grievances against Crocco, but a workplace survey shows faculty are not happy with salaries in the college.
Crocco has been dean since 2011.
In a copyrighted article, the Register reports that after a workplace survey in November revealed critical comments about Crocco, Provost Barry Butler met on Monday with Volker Thomas, head of the college's faculty advisory council, and Mike Morony, head of the staff council. Butler demanded all traces of electronic documentation of the comments be destroyed and all hard copies be handed over, according to the report that cites an internal university email.
Should they fail to comply, Butler and UI General Counsel Carroll Reasoner indicated the university's position was they would lose legal protection if they were named in a lawsuit, according to the report.
Butler and Reasoner did not respond to a request for comment from the Register reporter. Thomas declined comment to Patch, and Morony wasn't reached.
Altmaier declined to discuss the claims against the university leaders, but she did address the no confidence vote.
She said it was held over a 48 hour window on Nov. 6 and 7. Ninety one faculty in the college received a ballot, of which 65 were returned. The vote was 44 no confidence to 16 confidence with five abstentions, she said.
"The university is aware of concerns expressed by the faculty and staff in the College of Education," UI spokesman Tom Moore said in an email on Tuesday. "The leadership of the university fully supports Dean Crocco. She has already made tremendous progress during her short time at the university, and there is every expectation that she will continue to do so."
Altmaier, who declined to say how she voted, said she received the completed ballots from an intermediary after they were returned to Thomas. In consultation with eight senior faculty in the college, Altmaier distributed the results to the entire education faculty on Nov. 16.
Another senior faculty member, Stewart Ehly, who also declined to say how he voted, said he has limited dealings with Crocco but is aware of concerns.
"There's been some people who see themselves as supportive of the dean and try to convince others that the dean is doing a good job," Ehly said. "Others are scared, uneasy, tense. They are letting some of the issues swirling around affect their personal lives. They are worried about their future.