U.S.C. President Censured by Academic Senate After Weeks of Turmoil

The University of Southern California’s academic senate voted on Wednesday to censure Carol Folt, the school’s president, after several tumultuous weeks in which the administration canceled the valedictory address of a Muslim student, cleared a protest encampment within hours and called in police last month to arrest dozens of protesters.

The academic senate, which consists primarily of faculty members, also endorsed calls for an investigation into the administration’s actions. Its resolution, which passed by a wide margin after a several hourslong meeting on Wednesday afternoon, cited “widespread dissatisfaction and concern among the faculty” about the decision making of Dr. Folt and Andrew T. Guzman, the provost, who was also censured.

The vote represented only a fraction of the university’s 4,700 faculty members, and the senate stopped short of taking a vote of no-confidence in the administrators, which would have been a harsher rebuke. Despite criticism, Dr. Folt has maintained considerable support from the university’s trustees, and some faculty members have quietly sympathized with her.

Still, the vote was “significant” with “far-reaching implications,” said William G. Tierney, a professor emeritus of higher education at U.S.C., who has written about the response to campus protests across the nation.

“The petition from the faculty was thoughtful and the discussion was serious,” said Dr. Tierney, a past president of the senate who has criticized Dr. Folt’s handling of the protest and who confirmed the vote. “No faculty wants to rebuke their president and provost. But this was warranted.”

Christina Dunbar-Hester, the acting president of the university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, who watched the meeting, said that faculty members have been particularly frustrated by a lack of communication from administrators and the speed with which the Los Angeles Police Department was called on protesters who were not violent.

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