Faculty members at Linfield University voted Monday to express that they have no confidence in the leadership of the university president or the chair of the board of trustees. The faculty members are calling for both leaders to resign.
Faculty within the university’s College of Arts and Sciences took part in the vote during a meeting late Monday afternoon. A resolution signifying no confidence and calling for the resignation of President Miles Davis and board Chair David Baca passed in a 59 to 11 vote.
The vote came amid ongoing tension at the private university’s McMinnville campus. The conflict surfaced most recently late last month when Linfield professor and faculty trustee Daniel Pollack-Pelzner posted a series of tweets detailing anti-Semitic comments he’d heard from Davis, Baca and others at the university.
Specifically, Pollack-Pelzner said that Linfield President Davis made a comment about a study measuring the length of Jewish noses during a conversation about Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice.” Pollack-Pelzner also said Davis had mentioned faculty members “overreacting” to swastikas that had appeared on campus, among other comments.
Pollack-Pelzner said some of the anti-Semitic comments occurred after he had reported that multiple Linfield trustees had been accused of sexual misconduct by students and faculty over the past year.
Specifically, the professor had brought to light complaints of misconduct about former board member David Jubb, who was indicted last year on multiple counts of sexual abuse — some of those counts relating to a female Linfield student who filed a federal lawsuit in 2019 against Jubb.
In another account, a faculty member accused Linfield President Davis of misconduct — specifically saying that Davis had approached that faculty member from behind and rubbed his hands up and down their arms while saying he looked forward to a scheduled meeting.
In his Tweets, Pollack-Pelzner said that, after he had drawn attention to those reports, board Chair Baca had accused Pollack-Pelzner of “harboring a secret agenda to grab power” when he suggested the board look into sexual harassment trainings.
In a statement earlier this month related to the claims of anti-Semitism, Linfield spokesperson Scott Nelson said, “the people who have been accused deny that these things were ever said.”
Investigators last year could not substantiate Pollack-Pelzner’s claims of anti-Semitic comments — some of the statements were allegedly made in private meetings and could not be independently confirmed.
However, according to report summaries provided to OPB of the sexual misconduct incidents that were investigated, outside investigators last year found that the incidents did occur, though those incidents were not found to violate Linfield policies around sexual harassment or Title IX.
Following Pollack-Pelzner’s Twitter thread, the Pacific Northwest chapter of the Anti-Defamation League wrote a letter to Linfield leadership expressing disappointment and concern over the alleged anti-Semitism.
After further allegations of anti-Semitic comments made by President Davis were reported by The Oregonian/Oregonlive, the Oregon Board of Rabbis sent a letter last week calling for both Davis and Baca to resign.
Linfield faculty Monday expressed they felt Davis and Baca had “created an intimidating and hostile work environment, harmed members of the Linfield community, and damaged Linfield’s reputation,” according to the resolution that passed.
The resolution also read that “further harms to members of the community and the institution could result” from Davis and Baca continuing to serve in their positions.
Nelson, the Linfield spokesperson, said that to his knowledge, “there’s no formal mechanism for an individual college or school within the university to take this step, and nowhere to send such a resolution.”
Nelson said he had no comment on the passage of that particular vote.
Sharon Bailey Glasco, associate professor of history at Linfield, took exception to Nelson’s “no formal mechanism” contention.
“The Linfield University bylaws recognize that the different academic units of the university — of which the College of Arts and Sciences is one — can develop their own internal faculty governance structures,” Bailey Glasco said.”[A]dopting this resolution is an official action of the College of Arts and Sciences faculty, and should be understood as such.”
Bailey Glasco said she hoped top leaders at the university wouldn’t “dismiss” Monday’s action, saying the administration has already rebuffed attempts by the faculty to discuss concerns.
“Regrettably, we have no reason to believe that there can be a good-faith process moving forward with the current leadership in place,” Bailey Glasco concluded.
This is not the first vote of no confidence to occur at Linfield.
Following the reports of former board member Jubb’s misconduct last year, Linfield faculty voted they had no confidence in Board Chair Baca, specifically in his ability to handle sexual harassment reports, , according to reporting from Linfield’s student newspaper — The Linfield Review.