They say they've lost faith in Shelby Thames ability to lead and they're not afraid to say so. During an emergency meeting in Hattiesburg, members of University of Southern Mississippi Faculty Senate issued a unanimous vote of no confidence in the leadership abilities of President Shelby Thames. Faculty Senate members also passed a resolution urging the state College Board to reinstate two professors suspended on Friday.
Myron Henry is president of the Faculty Senate. He told members "We can only hope that the actions we take today as faculty and friends of this fine university will bring back freedom of speech, academic freedom and freedom from retaliation."
In a resolution to the I.H.L. board, the USM faculty senate asked the threats and retaliation by president Shelby Thames stop. That's what professors Frank Glamser and Gary Stringer say cost them their jobs.
"Gary and I basically got the death penalty Friday so regardless of what would happen in court. Our careers have been ended," said Glamser. "If you think your tenure is worth today what it was worth 3 days ago your kidding yourself."
Many faculty said the feel too may be targeted.
"It is dangerous to question the wisdom of the unwise people who now lead this university," said retired professor Neil McMillen. "Make no mistake about it free speech and academic freedom have no safe guards that are recognized by the Thames Administration."
Some professors chose to come forward anyway. They said they cared too much about the school to keep silent any longer. Associate professor Andy Weist has a lot to lose. "I have a two year old daughter at home and a baby on the way next month. Termination would be especially devastating for me."
After going into a closed meeting, the Faculty Senate came out with a second vote. All 40 members said they have no confidence in Thames's ability to lead.
Henry said "He's [Thames] gone forward with an action that is just unacceptable and tears at the very fabric of our university.
Henry says copies of the resolution and no confidence vote will be given to the I.H.L. within the next two days. He also says a vote will be put to the entire USM faculty soon.