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Faculty Panel Votes To Censure N.C. State Chancellor

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A faculty advisory committee voted Tuesday to censure North Carolina State University Chancellor Marye Anne Fox for her decision to fire two top administrators this month.

The N.C. State Faculty Senate voted 29-6 to criticize formally Fox for the dismissals of C. Frank Abrams and Bruce Mallette, whoboth worked in the campus provost's office.

Fox fired the pair Jan. 7 after Provost Stuart L. Cooper refusedto fire them himself. The next day, Cooper resigned in protestafter 17 months as the school's chief academic officer under Fox,whose job is essentially N.C. State's chief executive officer.

Fox last week told the same faculty committee that the provost'soffice had failed to bring her important information on issues suchas departmental budgets, graduation rates, faculty recruiting andcrowded classes. She said she needed a team she could communicate with quickly and easily and a provost she could trust to take care of issues when she was away.

The censure resolution has no binding effect but signals thedispleasure of many professors at the state's largest universitycampus. The resolution will be sent to Fox and the university'sboard of trustees.

History professor Tony LaVopa said the firings are part of atrend since Fox arrived at the school in 1998 to exert herauthority over which academic departments receive money and whichdon't.

The firings come at a time the provost's office, which managesacademic issues at the school, is deciding which young professorsare promoted and which will be asked to leave the school. Thoseprofessors who receive tenure get virtual lifetime job protection.

"The personnel decisions from all the departments are going upthere right now to the provost's office," LaVopa said.

LaVopa said Abrams, who was senior vice provost for academicaffairs, "had tremendous experience" dealing with faculty membersand "dealt with them with great fairness and prudence andexpertise."

"Her evaluation of their work performance and their service tothis university is at considerable variance with that experiencedby the faculty," he said.

Fox addressed the panel and defended the firings while sayingshe regretted the turmoil that resulted.

"This was not acting in a precipitous manner. This was wellreasoned over a long period of many months," Fox said.

Fox's supporters on the Senate said her style has producedresults at the Raleigh school with more than 28,000 students.

Fox "has raised the profile as a national and internationaluniversity," said Richard Gilbert, a professor emeritus of woodand paper science.

Abrams and Mallette are among more than 1,300 N.C. Statestaffers who serve at the pleasure of the chancellor.

Abrams remains on N.C. State's payroll as a tenured agricultureprofessor, while Mallette, the former vice provost for academicadministration, is still on the school's payroll for three monthswhile working on a project, said university spokesman Tim Lucas.

Cooper is a tenured chemical engineering professor and is likelyto see a cut in pay from his $225,000 job as provost.

Fox's boss last week noted that chancellors have full authorityto terminate senior administrators. But Molly Broad, president ofthe University of North Carolina system, said Tuesday she took thefaculty committee's vote "very seriously."

"Their vote to publicly censure her sends a troublesome signalthat, if not addressed, will interfere with her ability to realizethe long-term success of the campus," Broad said in a preparedstatement.

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