There is unrest at St. Joseph’s Sniversity. In a trio of “no confidence” votes, two by the faculty senate and one by the business faculty at the Philadelphia Catholic college have shown concern about the school’s leadership.
Professor Claire Simmers said she worries about the lack of a big picture vision for St. Joe’s. She said that’s why she backed the “no confidence” vote, by members of the business school, in the school’s president, Fr. Kevin Gillespie.
“Because of the difficult economic environments, external environments,” Simmers said. “The demographics are trending down in terms of the number of eligible high school students, there’s a lot of competition — excellent competition in the Philadelphia area.”
Simmers, who’s been at the university nearly 20 years, said making St. Joe’s stand out to prospective students is essential to the school’s future.
“It has not been a vision that we have been able to discern as well as perhaps it was intended,” she said.
St. Joseph’s spokesman Joseph Lunardi disputed the concerns. He said undergraduate applications for admission have increased almost 30 percent in the last five years.
“Most schools where you see these kinds of activities are where budgets are being slashed and programs are being cut dramatically,” Lunardi said. “There are mass layoffs and deficits and that’s just not the reality on the ground at St. Joseph’s — where enrollment is growing, the operating budget is growing.”
Lunardi said the administration and the trustees take the faculty’s views very seriously.
“They also take the long-term financial health of the university very seriously because that’s their primary responsibility. And they believe very strongly that the university’s academic and financial performance over a multi-year period speaks for itself,” he said.
Lunardi said the administration is already giving the faculty a larger voice in shaping the university’s mission and its future.