Goetz to Faculty Senate Prez: Back Off McCallum No Confidence Vote


Former Dickinson State University Faculty Senate President Steven Doherty was at home when he received an unexpected phone call from North Dakota University System Chancellor William Goetz on a Thursday morning in March 2011. “He (Goetz) identified himself and just wanted to talk about the prospect of a (DSU Faculty Senate) vote of no confidence (against DSU President Richard McCallum). I had no previous relationship with (Goetz). He was, of course, the chancellor of the university system I worked in. I never had any previous conversations with (Goetz) so I guess I wasn’t anticipating talking to (Goetz)…(Goetz said) that he did not think at this point it would be good for DSU to have a vote of no confidence…I didn’t really say much…I said thank you for the input. And the vote never came up,” said Doherty, who was quick to point out that he did not feel any pressure, stress or any sort of intimidation factor from Goetz during the brief conversation. Doherty is currently an Associate Professor of Political Science at DSU.

According to Doherty, who served as DSU Faculty Senate President from 2010-2011, the topic of a vote of no confidence against President Richard McCallum was on the DSU Faculty Senate meeting agenda later the same day of the Goetz phone call. “I did not officially announce (Goetz’s phone call) to the entire faculty senate. Conversations with some people (on campus revealed that) they didn’t seem to think (a vote of no confidence) was a terribly good idea either,” said Doherty.

The vote of no confidence March 2011 agenda item, according to Doherty, was for discussion purposes only. “We had it on the agenda simply to, perhaps, if someone wished to comment. There was no formal vote for a vote of no confidence ever advanced during the time I was president…We really (just) discussed it. We were looking into the procedure. It turned out there were not any procedures present and so we just sort of moved on,” said Doherty.

Doherty explained that the March 2011 agenda contained other items which needed to be covered and the topic of a vote of no confidence just didn’t come up. Plus, Doherty said, nobody on the faculty senate made a motion to move forward with a vote of no confidence. “You have to understand that I was not going to move in a direction that the university community didn’t support and I think some people were very nervous about what could happen if they were too active in their opposition of Dr. McCallum. It was not clear that he was leaving. It was not clear that we were going to see the change in administration and some people probably were worried about the consequences if they would have been too open in their criticism of him,” said Doherty.

A phone interview with Doherty was conducted on May 10, 2012.

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