Tennessee State Faculty Senate Leader Arrested During Meeting
Tennessee State University Faculty Senate Chair Jane Davis was arrested yesterday for what campus officials are calling ‘disruptive and disorderly conduct’ during a called meeting. The meeting was called by TSU Interim President Portia Holmes Shields, and followed a contentious period of disagreement between Dr. Davis at the school’s administration over the changing of grades without faculty consent. From the Tennessean:
Davis, an English professor, has been an outspoken critic of several policies and decisions made by TSU interim President Portia Shields, who has clashed with some faculty since her arrival in early 2011.
In July, Davis publicized allegations that school administrators improperly changed 270 student grades last fall. The university said it was correcting a mistake, but Davis and other critics said the school was passing students who hadn’t completed their classes.
Dr. Davis was arrested after her refusal to stop talking during the meeting. In an email to state legislators and faculty liaisons obtained by the Digest, she says that Dr. Shields’ actions are ‘abusive and unlawful.’
Before Dr. Shields’ meeting started, I had asked her if she intended it to be a Faculty Senate meeting as announced, because she has no authority to do so. She refused to answer. Once in the meeting, she had someone give me an envelope with a letter that stated that she no longer recognized me as Senate Chair. I stated that at Faculty Staff Institute, both she and the Provost broke the Whistleblowers Protection Act in their speeches, and that her attempt to remove me as Senate Chair violated that law and university procedures. I also told her that people heard her say that she was going to “destroy” me, at which she laughed.
I have heard that after I was removed from the meeting, members of the Senate voted that I no longer be Chair–however, I am, in fact, still Senate Chair because the meeting was not an official Faculty Senate meeting, did not include an entirely correct list of Senators, and the vote was conducted in an atmosphere of complete and total intimidation of faculty.
Please stop this reign of terror at TSU. Pres. Shields has attempted to destroy any faculty governance that may not agree with her. She has also tampered with student governance by removing two rightfully elected Student Government Association officers. Her harassment, retaliation, and intimidation have no bounds.
A spokesperson told the Tennessean that the meeting was called to discuss the results of a faculty survey measuring the desire for Dr Davis’ removal along with the removal of the Senate’s executive committee. According to TSU officials, 60 percent of respondents voted for Davis’ removal as chair.