Dean Hansel Burley receives vote of no confidence - Albuquerque Journal

Dean Hansel Burley receives vote of no confidence

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Faculty in the University of New Mexico College of Education and Human Sciences overwhelmingly voted recently that they have no confidence in the dean leading the school.

The tally marked the first time in 15 years a dean at the state’s flagship university received a vote of no confidence. There’s no specific action required because of the faculty’s vote, but Provost James Holloway, who is responsible for appointing and managing deans, said he will take their position under consideration.

On Sept. 21, a survey was distributed to 85 faculty members in the college, and they were given five days to complete it. Of the 80 surveys that were returned, 64 people voted they had no confidence in Dean Hansel Burley, who took over leadership at the college on July 1, 2020.

Julia Scherba de Valenzuela, an associate professor of special education in the college, said some of the issues faculty had were related to communication, personnel matters and the shuttering of ongoing research projects in local schools. She also said professors have had to take on additional tasks.

Faculty were also critical of how Burley represented the college’s programs in public and his budget priorities.

“I think it has been a build up of lack of communication, and decision making that is not collaborative or transparent, and ill-informed at times,” she said. “We faculty are being asked to take on roles for which we don’t have the skill set.”

In a statement to the Journal, Burley said he was taken aback by the vote.

“I am both saddened and surprised by this action. However, I have listened carefully to the concerns of the faculty,” he said. “It is my hope that we can work together, with the assistance from the Office of the Provost, to reestablish a mutual trust and develop a plan to improve lines of communication. I remain committed to the College of Education and Human Sciences mission, and to advancing the success of our students, faculty and staff.”

Burley, who previously worked at Texas Tech University, was one of three new deans who arrived at UNM in the summer of 2020. He was one of four semi-finalists who visited the college before he was hired with a $216,000 salary.

Holloway said in a statement that he appreciated the faculty’s feedback.

“I know from many conversations with Professor Burley that he is dedicated to the mission (of education college),” he said. “Before I take any action, it will take me a little time to fully consider this vote and to gather documentation of any issues that were raised at the meeting, but I can assure our students in the meantime that becoming a teacher in a New Mexico school is one of the most impactful ways you can give back to your family and community.

“I can also confidently say that the dean and our faculty are fully committed to their successful academic and practical experiences, and that this vote will have no immediate impact on the work of our students.”

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