Monday, Jul 28, 2014 02:15 am est

Vote of No Confidence passes against John Sexton

Posted on March 15, 2013 | by Amy Aixi Zhang, Hanqing Chen, and Jonathon Dornbush

The results of the vote of no confidence in NYU President John Sexton are in.

In a press release (provided below) sent by the Faculty of Arts and Science, 569 of the 682  (83%) eligible members cast their vote.

Question: “The Faculty of Arts and Science has no confidence in John Sexton’s leadership.”

298 agreed (52%)
224 disagreed (39%)
47 members voted to abstain (8%)

113 eligible voters did not cast a ballot.

In the press release, the FAS stated that they did not count those who voted to abstain. As a result, 57% of members agreed while 43% of members disagreed.

This no-confidence vote is a symbolic vote that represents the dissatisfaction of the faculty.

Full press release here


“I have spent the majority of my professional life at NYU.  In those three decades, I have been animated by a single purpose – to serve my institution well, and to try to improve it.  Through a collective effort involving trustees, alumni, University leadership, and faculty, we have during the past 30 years transformed NYU from a decent regional university into an international research university that stands among the top institutions in the world.  This stands as a great collective accomplishment.

“Now we are in a time of tremendous pressure on higher education, and my goal is to sustain that academic momentum while adapting NYU to a dramatically changing environment.  Over the past several months, there has been vigorous debate about NYU’s direction, resulting in both expressions of support – from the Medical School, from the Nursing School, from the Dental School, from the Deans of all the schools, as well today’s email to the NYU community from the Trustees – and now this expression of dissatisfaction from FAS.

“In the university setting, we believe in debate and criticism; it helps us improve.  That will be particularly important in the months and years ahead, because we are at a moment that compels meaningful change in higher education.

“It is also the case that faculty must be at the center of the academic endeavor and involved in the decision-making.  We have taken some important steps in that direction and, particularly with this vote in mind, that effort will continue. I look forward to working with the faculty to maintain NYU’s academic trajectory and prepare for the challenges ahead.”


“NYU’s faculty of Arts and Science has now voted, by 298 to 224 with 47 abstentions,  for a motion of no confidence in the leadership of Pres. John Sexton. We call on him to honor that consensus by resigning, and ask that the Trustees accept his resignation.

“As the Trustees comprise the third tier of shared governance, we hope they will act quickly to restore faculty morale, by working with us to turn NYU into a more open university-one that is transparent in its financial dealings, and more democratic in its management of academic affairs.”


The board of trustees expressed their continued support of President Sexton’s tenure in light of the vote.

“We see the improvement in the academic qualifications of entering freshmen during John’s presidency, the increase in retention and graduation rates, and the expansion of financial aid,” the Trustees wrote in a statement.

“We believe that the global network created during his presidency has offered new academic opportunities to faculty and students (twice as many of whom study abroad as did 10 years ago), distinguished NYU among U.S. universities, and attracted the commitment and support of sophisticated partners. And we note that all this has occurred while John continues to teach undergraduates every semester.”

Full press release here

A multitude of statements are flooding in. We’ll list them below. Comment on what you think this means for President Sexton and the NYU community.

FAS Press Release 3.15.13

Statement from Board of Trustees on Vote of No Confidence


  • jor

    Doesn’t matter, damaged has been done. The Villages — East, Greenwich — have been destroyed. NYU’s reputation shot. Bloomberg has a seat for him in the emperor’s throne.

  • Ernesto G.

    As a colleague of mine aptly put it upon reading the trustees’ response, it “sounds exactly like the true voice of power, emerging from the inner boardroom sanctum. They never show their face, and they never show their hand. Now they have been forced to do so.” The urgent call for accountability and fiscal transparency, mandated by yesterday’s unprecedented vote, is a victory for faculty democracy and shared governance AND our students, the most indebted of any private univ. in the country.

  • steadygaze

    Sexton set up many international branches to make NYU a global university; Harvard has just gone global with EdX without setting up a foot overseas. Too much ambition and limitless leadership without faculty insight?

  • Alumnus

    Breaking: A subset of faculty from one of NYU’s schools continues to complain about any and everything under the sun, despite the fact that they enjoy their jobs, salary and prestige in no small part due to Sexton’s efforts to make NYU what it is today.

    I also find amusing the claim that a no confidence vote by 43% of the faculty of one school represents a “consensus” in favor of resignation. I guess these are mostly humanities professors, not math professors.

  • Paul Funkhouser

    the vote is a small victory but confined to symbolic, maybe they will throw us a bone because they are embarassed
    let’s stop asking..start organizing and demand

  • wei

    John was the first professor I had at NYU and is hands-down one of the most inspiring teachers I’ve had the privilege of knowing. He is kind, compassionate and a brilliant thinker. I think it would be a huge disservice to NYU and its surrounding community for him to live and work anywhere else. After all, he taught me “exegesis” and “penumbra”.

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