There has been no shortage of fascinating developments as of late at Saint Louis University.
Last week, the Faculty Council of SLU's College of Arts and Sciences overwhelmingly passed a vote of no confidence regarding Manoj Patankar, the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Just two days later, ostensibly in response to the Council's action, the SLU Board of Trustees affirmed its confidence in President Lawrence Biondi and in all of the University’s Vice Presidents (Patankar included), as announced by Board Chair Thomas Brouster last Monday. Having none of it, the SLU Faculty Senate met on Tuesday and overwhelmingly passed its own vote of no confidence regarding Patankar. And on Wednesday evening, the SLU Student Government Association considered whether to proceed with its own vote of no confidence in Patankar, but decided to hold off for the time being.
How should the SLU Law faculty respond to all of this?
In one respect, the Law faculty has already weighed in on the controversy by way of the vote of no confidence passed by the Faculty Senate, on which the Law School has four representatives. However, if the observations that Annette Clark offered in her resignation announcement are true, then the university administration has taken a number of actions that have had a particularly and uniquely destabilizing effect upon the Law School, not the least of which are the taking of Law School funds, the denial of the faculty's right to participate meaningfully in signficant Law School decisions, and the causing of Clark's departure as dean. According to Clark, Patankar bears at least partial culpability for these actions.
It would be one thing if the Law faculty questions the facts as Clark has presented them. But if there is no basis upon which to dispute those facts, I submit that the act of detailing the relevant events and setting forth its corporate judgment as to how the matter should be remedied is no longer a matter of choice for the faculty--it is a matter of duty. Considering that the actions of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Faculty Senate have publicly and squarely placed before the Board of Trustees the issue of Patankar's fitness to serve SLU as Vice President for Academic Affairs, now seems as good a time as any.