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ISU faculty delays vote after trustee steps in

by Jessie L. Bonner
| November 30, 2010 8:00 PM

BOISE - Faculty leaders at Idaho State University postponed a no-confidence vote on school President Arthur Vailas after a state Board of Education trustee waded into the fray.

Faculty Senate Chair Phil Cole confirmed Monday that the vote was delayed after discussions with board vice president Ken Edmunds, but stressed that faculty leaders were not forced to take such action.

"There's been no demands, or anything of that sort," Cole told The Associated Press.

Faculty leaders earlier this month scheduled a Dec. 6 vote on Vailas and charged the administrator with failure of leadership. Their complaints included gripes that Vailas made budget decisions in secrecy and took credit for their accomplishments in front of the state Board of Education.

Cole said he was later contacted by Edmunds, who asked what it would take to facilitate further conversation between Vailas and faculty at the eastern Idaho university.

Last week, Cole told The AP faculty leaders had postponed the no-confidence vote in hopes the two sides could work out their differences. While some faculty have expressed concerns that the Idaho State Faculty Senate was pressured into delaying the vote, Cole disagrees.

"I would not characterize it as people forcing us to do one thing or another," he said.

Faculty leaders will meet later Monday to discuss their next steps as they work toward reconciliation.

The meeting will mark the latest chapter in what has become something of a tenuous relationship between faculty and administrators at the second largest public university in the state.

Nearly 70 percent of faculty members cast a no-confidence vote against Idaho State University Provost Gary Olson about eight months ago. But Vailas stood by Olson and said he would keep his job, despite faculty furor over a plan the provost had presented to restructure some campus departments.

Vailas attributed tensions on the Pocatello campus to the poor economy and said he was unsure why Olson, who had hired less than a year earlier with widespread faculty support, faced such opposition.

Such votes are not binding on the Board of Education, which has yet to take official action in the dispute between Vailas and the faculty.

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