To the Faculty Senators and Alternate Senators for the UAB School of Nursing:
We are writing to you as a UAB Nursing students, Blazer fans, and advocates for the University.
We are writing in regards to the Faculty Senate meeting scheduled for Tuesday, December 9, 2014. In light of the events that have occurred this week, we respectfully ask that you consider showing a vote of no confidence in our current President, Dr. Ray Watts. We request this with heavy hearts, but see this as something that should be considered under the current circumstances.
We are confident that Dr. Ray Watts came in as President of the University with the best intentions. We have already seen tremendous growth with our new slogan "Knowledge That Will Change Your World". In addition, we have seen great strides in the Campaign for UAB and the growth in areas such as the new Collat School of Business. Although these strides are great, UAB deserves more.
UAB is a unique school. In the heart of a great city, we come from a beginning different than most schools. What started as an extension grew into a great University. Under the great leadership of Dr. Carol Garrison we doubled undergraduate enrollment and grew as passionate students and Blazer fans. This past year the students have thrived and taken new hope in our football team under the amazing leadership of Coach Bill Clark. But this is not only about UAB Football. This is about the University and the City of Birmingham. We believe this week, Dr. Ray Watts has lost sight of what UAB can be. This is not solely based on the cut of the UAB Football, Bowling, and Rifle teams. This is based off the lack of leadership in the way the situation was handled.
We as students desire to trust our President and support his decisions. We desire a leader who values open communication and seeks the best for the University and the City. We are afraid Dr. Watts is not this leader. From the beginning of the Strategic Plan, Dr. Watts failed to communicate the possible outcomes of this plan. Leadership requires communicating step by step through the entire process, not just waiting to speak up once the rumors have to be addressed. Honesty is necessary to gain trust. After the lack of communication, leadership, and honesty surrounding this situation, we are unsure if Dr. Watts can come back from this. It seems as though he has lost the respect of most students, alumni, and the community.
We support a vote of no confidence because we do not believe Dr. Watts can continue to lead in a setting where he has lost the respect of the people he leads.
In no way is Dr. Watts the enemy in this situation. We should consider where he comes from. He comes from years of practicing medicine and leadership in the UA School of Medicine. Is it possible that all he has seen of UAB is the medical side? Is it possible he has missed the growth of the undergraduate community, the forming of new traditions, and the role sports played in all of this? UAB is finally a school where people have a chance to excel in all areas, including sports, yet that vision seemed to be lost this week. When a vision is established for this University, that vision should not be limited to academics. It should be applied to every area of this University. When establishing the vision for UAB, not only did Dr. Watts fail to include the athletic programs as part of his vision, but he also failed to consider the student athletes involved. Failure for Dr. Watts to envision the potential and the growth for UAB under Coach Bill Clark shows a lack leadership for UAB and a lack of concern for the effects on this City.
His goal to do a Strategic Plan was clearly one where he intended the best for the University. There is no doubt he could be absolutely correct in the decision he made. But, it was not the plan itself, yet the way it was done that lost our trust. There was no warning. We did not hear first from him. Rumors had to circulate for a month before it was ever addressed, and in one day the program Coach Clark worked so hard to rebuild was gone. What about the rest of the University? Email was the chosen method of communication.
So we do not call for a vote of no confidence in Dr. Watts because of merely the cut of three programs. We call for this vote because of the way he has gone through the entire process. The lack of vision, honesty, and communication resulted in a lack of respect and trust in our President. We need a leader that values the opinions of the students he leads. We want a leader who hears the voices of the students and community, and fights for us. We are afraid Dr. Watts failed us in that.
If this past week is an example of his method of leadership in carrying out his Strategic Plan during his term as President, we would be ignorant to think the rest of the University should not be on our toes. Just as a new coach with a new locker room and a great season was cut in one day, we can not trust that new dorms and buildings could stop a decision that is short sighted and more "fiscally responsible."
So we push for a vote of no confidence, because we cannot allow our President to lose sight of the possibilities for UAB and the City of Birmingham.
UAB Nursing Students
Kyndal Cheng, UABSON Class of 2016
Margaret Lueck, Women’s Rifle, UABSON Class of 2016
Kaitlyn Gough, UABSON Class of 2016
Brooks Hinnant, UABSON Class of 2016
Shannon Donnelly, UABSON Class of 2016
Anna K. Alford, UABSON Class of 2016
Kaitlyn Bailey, UABSON Class of 2016
Erin Hoppens, UABSON Class of 2016
Bailey Whitfield, UABSON Class of 2016
Brian Haight, UABSON Class of 2016
Michelle Tomme, UABSON Class of 2016
Brandi Sivley, UABSON Class of 2016
Kimi Wendland, UABSON Class of 2016
Jillian Bridges, UABSON Class of 2016
Abby Castleberry, UABSON Class of 2016
Hannah Leopard, UABSON Class of 2016
Adrienne Bolan, UABSON Class of 2016
Jordan Rush, UABSON Class of 2016
Elizabet Karst, UABSON Class of 2016
Shivangi Argade, UABSON Class of 2016
Jessica Stillabower, UABSON Class of 2016