Faculty Senate Chair plans to resign after vote of no-confidence

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Elise Gregg | Editor-in-Chief

FIU’s Faculty Senate chair is stepping down after months of discontent among faculty senators and a narrow vote of no-confidence at the last Senate meeting. 

Deanne Butchey announced her resignation during the Senate Steering Committee meeting on Tuesday, April 11. She will step down on July 31 after serving as chair since last fall. 

“She made this announcement at the very end of the meeting,” CASE Senator and steering committee member Remy Dou confirmed in an email to PantherNOW. 

Her withdrawal from the role comes after the Senate just barely passed a motion of no-confidence in her at the last Senate meeting on April 4. 

The 30-29 vote was contentious. Many senators felt Butchey had not done a good job of representing senators to the Board of Trustees. Others felt that a vote of no-confidence was unfair given the difficulties she faced amidst current state attempts to restric academic freedom.

Still others felt that, regardless of her performance, passing the motion would only further divide the Senate and make them look weak. 

Butchey, who is also on the Board of Trustees and is a professor of finance, is expected to make a public announcement about her resignation at the next Faculty Senate meeting. 

PantherNOW reached out to Butchey, who did not want to comment on her resignation before the next Faculty Senate meeting. 

“That sort of announcement should be made in a public forum,” said Butchey. 

Dou added that Butchey intends to establish an ad hoc governmental liaison committee during the next few months, which will inform the Senate about upcoming legislation relevant to academic matters. 

“She suggested she would continue participating as a senator on this committee alongside the current government liaison in the Senate,” Dou stated. Membership is by appointment, and Butchey asked the Steering Committee to suggest candidates.

College of Law senator Scott Norberg, another member of the steering committee, said the committee was sure to thank Butchey for her work as chair during the Tuesday meeting. 

“We appreciated the way she handled her job,” Norberg told PantherNOW. “We have a lot of gratitude for her hard work during challenging circumstances.” 

Per Senate bylaws, current Vice Chair Noël Barengo will serve as acting chair after Butchey steps down while the Senate looks to fill the position. Nominations can be made at the meeting following the announcement of the vacancy. 

With Barengo’s spot open, the Steering Committee will nominate a replacement vice chair that the Senate will confirm by majority vote at the following meeting.

Senator Dou said there could be a few ways to interpret the bylaws based on the current circumstances. 

“It is possible that the vacancy is announced at the April 18 meeting and nominations are submitted at the June 13 meeting alongside a vote,” stated Dou in the email. “However, I don’t believe this will be the case.” 

Alternatively, the vacancy announcement will be made either June 13 or at the first meeting of the 2023-24 academic year. The vote would then be held at the following meeting – which, in either case, would be early next academic year. 

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