Faculty in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) gave Dean Andy Thulin a vote of no-confidence. Thulin was the dean for CAFES for this past 2014-15 academic year and the interim dean the year prior.
“The faculty were frustrated with his leadership abilities this year and wanted change,” said Bill Kellogg, the department head of agriculture education and communication.
The ballot was given to CAFES faculty on the week of May 28 to June 4. Out of the 99 votes, 78 agreed on the vote of no-confidence, with 21 disagreeing.
Agribusiness professor Lynn Hamilton said the amount of no-confidence votes fairly depicts how the college feels overall.
“This was an issue people were passionate about,” Hamilton said. “Clearly, it was a strong vote of no-confidence.”
There are no previous records of a vote of no-confidence in CAFES, Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier said in an email.
The faculty in each department has been affected by Thulin’s inability to complete tasks on time, Kellogg said.
“Throughout the year, a number of departments have requested to hire new faculty,” Kellogg said. “The requests oftentimes are sat on his desk and was not acted upon in a timely matter, such that when we did get permission, it was too late.”
CAFES has been unable to hire new faculty without permission from the dean to recruit. But Thulin contributes to CAFES in other ways, Kellogg said.
“He is an outstanding fundraiser for the university, probably the best at the university for obtaining funds,” Kellogg said. “The College of Agriculture vastly exceeded our goals this year and he had a large part in that.”
Hamilton, however, said Thulin’s lack of budgetary transparency also takes away from his effectiveness as dean.
When Hamilton started at Cal Poly in 1996, the department head gave out a spreadsheet that showed where every penny was spent, but now the budget is centralized around the dean’s office and the rest of the faculty does not know where the money is being dispersed.
“These were some of the questions that we were trying to get out of the vote of no-confidence and we were not getting satisfactory answers,” Hamilton said. “We used to have knowledge about these things; we used to have more shared governance.”
Many people support Thulin, including Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong, and he will remain in charge of CAFES for the 2015-16 academic year.
Lazier said the dean will develop his leadership skills with a professional facilitator, whose $38,500 salary will be paid out of the CAFES budget.
“The CAFES external advisory board and the majority of CAFES department heads remained fully supportive of Dean Thulin,” Lazier said in an email.
Thulin respects the vote of the faculty and is prepared to work hard toward the goal to collaborate with each member in CAFES, he said in a statement.