University of Arizona President gets vote of “no confidence” for response in deadly campus shooting

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 5:59 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - University of Arizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins and his team are facing more backlash after the campus shooting and killing of Hydrology Professor Dr. Thomas Meixner.

The UA Faculty Senate approved a vote of “no confidence” for the way Robbins and his team failed to protect Meixner.

The vote passed with 29 members voting yes, 13 no, and 7 abstaining. This means the UA Faculty Senate is now asking Robbins and his administration to provide a timeline for implementing a risk management system and measures for accountability in less than 30 days.

“This is a time for action, a time to stand up, and to do what’s right. with that, I have no confidence in the current administration to make things right,” said Dr. Kathie Zeiders, associate professor at the university.

The University of Arizona Faculty Senate is demanding accountability in the murder of Meixner, who was allegedly shot and killed by former grad student Murad Dervish in October. A recent report on the shooting found that there are gaps in campus safety. The senate faculty cited several reasons for the no-confidence vote.

“First, failing to do due diligence to ensure the safety of the late professor Thomas Meixner, the hydrology and atmospheric sciences faculty, staff, students, and campus before professor Meixner’s tragic murder,” said Dr. Ted Downing, who introduced the motion for the vote during the meeting.

Other reasons for the vote included the combative and nonconstructive response to the general faculty committee on Safety for All interim report and intentionally calling a news conference beginning 30 minutes before the special senate faculty meeting. Faculty voted no confidence in several campus officials.

“The faculty senate expresses no confidence in President Robbins and his management team, including the UA Police Chief (Paula) Balafas, CFO Lisa Runley, general counsel Laura Todd Johnson, Dean of Students Kendall Washington White, and Provost (Liesl) Folks,” continued Dr. Leila Hudson, Faculty Chair.

The no-confidence vote was not unanimous and many members asked for more time before taking the vote. Others pointed out that the issue goes beyond the October shooting.

“I don’t believe this is just an issue of no confidence and safety. This is an issue of whether we actually trust that our current leadership will rise to the task and so far there has been no clear demonstration of that,” explained Dr. Jenny Lee.

We reached out to President Robbins for a response to this vote, but his office referred us to the Arizona Board of Regents who said, “The board fully supports President Robbins, whose guidance has led the university to achieve extraordinary success and has shepherded it through unprecedented challenges.”