Wildes under fire in Big Easy

October 26, 2006

Loyola gives former GU prof vote of no-confidence

Father Kevin Wildes, a former Georgetown bioethics professor and current president of Loyola University New Orleans, received a vote of no confidence from Loyola’s College of Humanities and Natural Sciences.

photo by Shanthi Manian

The Sept. 26 vote, which the faculty of the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences passed 61-19, was a reaction to Wildes’s Pathways plan, a proposal designed to make the university financially solvent in the face of Hurricane Katrina-related budget shortfalls.

The program eliminated 14 majors and 17 tenured or tenure-track positions, according to Loyola’s student newspaper, The Maroon.

After the hurricane, the University’s attendance dropped by eight percent, according to Jerry Goolsby, a professor in the College of Business.

“Loyola is having to sit back and reinvent itself,” Goolsby said, citing New Orleans’ damaged economy and Loyola’s transition from a local to a national university.

Not all of the University’s professors agree with Goolsby. “The faculty felt that their concerns were not listened to,” said Martin McHugh, a physics professor in the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences and an advocate of the no confidence vote. Because of Pathways, McHugh’s department cannot accept new students to the physics major.

“We’re not saying nothing had to be done: it’s just the way it was done,” McHugh said.

After the vote, the University’s Board of Trustees released a statement offering its “continuing support” for Wildes and the University’s provost, Walter Harris, who was named in a second successful no confidence vote.

“Actions approved at the May meeting of the trustees have helped to stabilize the university’s financial condition,” the statement said, referring to the Pathways program.

The vote will have no immediate effect on university policy. However, as Loyola’s largest school, the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences is influential, and the vote will have a stronger impact if any of Loyola’s five other schools pass similar resolutions.

Professor Goolsby does not expect the business school to hold a vote. “There has been no interest in a vote of no confidence [in the College of Business],” Goolsby said.

“Anyone who’s ever dealt with a business understands some of the steps you have to take. A lot of critics of the university administration have never dealt with a business, they’ve never had to balance a budget ” Goolsby said.

Wildes was at Georgetown for 11 years, during which he served as an associate professor in the Philosophy Department and as senior scholar at The Kennedy Institute of Ethics. Wildes also taught ethics at the Georgetown School of Medicine.

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