SUNY-ESF president takes responsibility for actions leading up to vote of no confidence

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The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s open Academic Governance passed a vote of no confidence in President Quentin Wheeler last week.

SUNY-ESF President Quentin Wheeler on Tuesday said he takes full responsibility for his actions and words in the sequence of events leading up to the vote of no confidence.

Wheeler spoke for about five minutes at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s open Academic Governance meeting Tuesday. His address came after the governing body — composed of faculty, staff and students — passed a vote of no confidence in him last week.

“I want to fully acknowledge that I heard the concerns expressed through the vote, through the campus climate survey and through our listening sessions,” Wheeler said.

The vote comes after months of increasing frustration and tension with Wheeler’s leadership, with critics citing his top-down leadership style and a climate of fear. This is the first vote of no confidence at SUNY-ESF, although not the first vote in the SUNY system. Although the vote passed, it cannot remove Wheeler from his position, and is only a signal to university stakeholders.

Wheeler said he wished he could have handled some issues differently, such as by not rushing the drafts of the strategic plan and clarifying his understanding of the role of the counsel.

“Building relationships is important, and I need to become even better at it,” he said.

For the future, Wheeler said there will be an elevated focus on relationships, communications, college priorities, shared governance and leadership.

“My sincere hope is that we make today a turning point,” he said.


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