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Ray Watts speaking to audienceRay Watts speaking to audience (Photo by Sarah Adkins).Thursday, Jan. 15, as most UAB students made their way to class, the UAB Faculty Senate convened to vote on two resolutions: the first regarding UAB athletics, and the second regarding shared governance and confidence in President Ray Watts, M.D. The Faculty Senate majority voted in favor of each proposed resolution, indicating “no confidence” in Watts.
As the meeting was called to order, speaker Chad Epps, the Faculty Senate Chair and Director of Simulation, explained that the votes would be collected by way of private paper ballots and would be tallied three times before the results were announced.

The first proposed resolution addressed the “Intercollegiate Athletic Sports” at UAB. The proposition argued the need for action based primarily on the expressed interest in UAB athletics by students, faculty, alumni, and surrounding communities.
Although the written proposal also cited the positive impact of athletics on student life and the potential for economic stimulus as the programs grow, the most compelling arguments came at the end of the proposition. The “strategic plan” for UAB athletics was enforced without consulting the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative and the NCAA FAR Handbook which states “that the FAR should be a senior advisor to matters related to intercollegiate athletics.”

As Watts ignored this due process, the Faculty Senate voted in full support of “NCAA-sanctioned athletics…and requested a comprehensive analysis of UAB athletics that is transparent and includes consideration of campus-wide impact.”
The second proposed resolution addressed “shared governance and confidence in President Ray Watts,” and founded its arguments on Watts’ neglecting regulations in the UAB Faculty handbook, the UAB Faculty Senate Constitution and the Manual of the Board of Trustees.

Before the Faculty Senate moved to vote on this second resolution, a senator representing the School of Medicine motioned to postpone the vote—a motion that ultimately did not pass, as one senator said that there was “no point in tabling the vote” because they had “six weeks to consider this vote.” The majority of the Faculty Senate saw postponing the vote as unproductive.

The Faculty Senate proceeded to vote in favor of the second resolution, stating that “recent decisions by President Ray Watts were exercised in a manner that demonstrates no respect for, or commitment to, shared governance,” and that “the UAB faculty has no confidence in President Ray Watts and his ability to lead the University going forward.”

The meeting was adjourned with the audience giving a standing ovation and chanting “U-A-B! U-A-B!”

Watts later responded to the vote: “I’m obviously disappointed, but what this vote means to me is that I have more work to do to find common ground so we can move forward, and I am up to this challenge. I truly want to thank our students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters who have made their voices heard in a constructive way. My focus moving forward is to work with our community to carry out our mission. As President I am totally committed to the future of UAB and the many great things we are doing here,” he said in a video message.

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