Removal of elective abortion coverage upheld, faculty resign
THE SANTA CLARA
February 20, 2014
The Board of Trustees on Friday rejected the Faculty Senate’s appeal to overturn the university’s elimination of health care coverage for elective abortions. After the announcement, Faculty Senate President Juliana Chang resigned in protest.
The latest installment in the ongoing saga came in an email from Board of Trustees Chair Robert Finocchio, Jr. to Santa Clara faculty and staff. The email was sent nine days after the Faculty Senate and the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees met to further discuss an appeal of the policy change, which was originally announced by President Michael Engh, S.J., in an Oct. 3 letter.
The email stated that “(Engh), as President and as a Trustee, has a duty to enhance and advance the identity and mission of the University as a Jesuit, Catholic university. In making the Decision, the President carried out this duty.”
English professor and Faculty Senate member Michelle Burnham offered a statement regarding Friday’s announcement.
“The trustees’ decision is not only disappointing for faculty, but insulting in its continued disregard for the voices and opinions of the faculty in decisions that affect us,” she said in an email.
Chang’s resignation this past Tuesday made her the fifth faculty member in the past year to step down over issues related to the administration’s decision-making power on campus, according to Burnham.
Burnham called this recent history “a serious crisis in relations between administration and faculty at (Santa Clara).”
According to a Jan. 27 letter to the Executive Committee from Chang, 215 of the 304 Faculty Senate members who voted on the December resolution to appeal Engh’s removal of elective abortion coverage decided that the policy change was “not in conformance with the University’s shared governance structure and (was) therefore invalid.”
Santa Clara’s system of shared governance, instituted in the mid-1990s, is a collaborative method that administration, faculty, staff and students use to promote broad consultation in decision-making.
According to Finocchio’s email, the Faculty Senate did not oppose Engh’s decision on substantive grounds.
“The Faculty Senate challenge was based on process grounds only, specifically a claimed failure to conform to principles of shared governance,” Finocchio stated.
The email also stated that the university’s shared governance model is a “recommendation model, not a consensus model” and that Engh concluded the change in healthcare coverage was “not subject to shared governance.”
The policy change will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
Contact Nick Ostiller at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4849.