Last Thursday, members of the UNH chapter of the American Association of Union Professors received an email announcing, in all capital letters, that they were conducting a no confidence vote on President Mark Huddleston.
The vote will decide whether the union deems Huddleston unfit to maintain his position at the university – a ludicrous thought at an even more ludicrous time.
Last week, Huddleston asked senators to avoid slashing the USNH budget more than $5 million after the House already approved a $45 million cut. The current budget is $100 million.
And now, professors have the chance to vote no confidence on Huddleston.
If professors don't have confidence in UNH leadership, how is the senate supposed to give USNH the $95 million it's asking for in the new budget?
In an email to AAUP members, English professor David Watters wrote, "just imagine if we vote confidence in Huddleston! It would send the message that the huge cuts in the House budget are just fine with us."
No, Professor Watters, it would not.
Huddleston has worked hard over the last week to ensure that the House budget is not passed. Voting confidence would show that you're going to stand up to the huge cuts.
Plus, this is a move that the AAUP is not prepared for.
Members have had just five days to mull over one of the biggest decisions in UNH history. And one of those days was a major holiday that many celebrated. For a typical meeting, according to union bylaws, members have at least 30 days to prepare.
Rather than discussing this major decision like mature adults – you know, the kind that professors are trying to mold students into – they decided to hold this vote.
While the AAUP doesn't cite contract negotiations as a contributor to approving the vote, it certainly didn't hurt. We've made it clear where we stand regarding these negotiations. The professors are simply asking for too much at a time when a USNH budget hasn't been approved.
President Huddleston didn't do himself any favors with the union during his speech, especially with lines like, "we still too frequently convey information in 50 minute lectures delivered by a ‘sage on the stage' to largely passive recipients in the audience."
But is he wrong? No. We've all encountered sub-par professors and we've all been a part of passive classes with unenthusiastic students. That's part of what he's trying to change with his strategic plan.
And he deserves a chance to do that.
The union should postpone this vote. It hasn't given professors the time to contemplate this and discuss it with other members. It hasn't given Huddleston the time he needs for reform. It sadly doesn't understand the effect that would have on the school.
So instead, professors need to head down to the library on Tuesday and Wednesday, grab their ballots and mark confidence in our president.
The union has already made two major mistakes in jeopardizing state appropriations and giving professors insufficient time before the vote. Let's hope they don't make a third.