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Sul Ross faculty group declines to vote on proposed “no confidence” resolution against Gallego

Faculty members at the Big Bend-area university declined to vote Wednesday on a proposed resolution calling for Sul Ross President Pete Gallego’s “immediate removal.”

By Travis Bubenik

A push for a “vote of no confidence” against outgoing Sul Ross State University President Pete Gallego fell short on Wednesday, as a group of faculty members declined to vote on the issue and instead moved to postpone the matter “indefinitely.”

At a private meeting, the university’s Faculty Assembly voted 21 to 16 - with two members abstaining - to table the issue. The vote came after a motion from communications professor Bret Scott, according to public minutes from the meeting.

Gallego was facing the prospect of a mostly symbolic statement against his tenure just weeks after announcing his plans to resign at the end of the school year.

Last month, the faculty assembly - an internal body that acts as a sort of liaison between educators and university officials - agreed to continue discussing a proposed “no confidence” resolution against Gallego.

The proposed resolution, a sweeping 22-point list of grievances about Gallego’s time on the job, was initially brought forth by assembly member Joseph Velasco, though Velasco has described the document as a collaborative effort involving many people.

Gallego did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though he has staunchly defended his time as president in correspondence with the faculty group.

In an interview Thursday, Velasco said he had concerns about whether the group followed proper procedures in voting to postpone the issue. Still, he said the effort was likely over for now.

“It feels to me like it’s dead, and I’m willing to let it die,” he said. “I sleep well at night knowing that I’ve done my job to help my university.”

Kathy Stein, the faculty group’s president, said in an email that there were “numerous concerns” among members about “the timing and process of the resolution.” But she suggested the issue could resurface down the road.

“I do think it is safe to say that this issue is not over,” she said.

Either way, the vote by the faculty group Wednesday means that even if some within the group want to continue pushing for a no confidence vote against Gallego, they likely won’t be able to revive the issue until the spring semester, just a few months before Gallego’s resignation date.

Under the faculty assembly’s own procedural rules, no confidence resolutions against a particular university official can only be considered once per semester, so as to avoid such votes being taken “frivolously or hastily.”

The speed of the resolution moving forward against Gallego had in fact concerned some within the faculty group in recent weeks, notably most of the group’s leadership team.

In a letter to the university president on Nov. 16, leadership members claimed they were “surprised” about the proposal surfacing and criticized the initial vote to move the discussion forward as “hasty.”

Velasco, who is on the leadership team but did not sign onto the letter, pushed back on the idea that the process was rushed.

“The word ‘hasty’ has been thrown around so often,” he said. “This has been a quite thoughtful and careful and deliberative process that’s involved many faculty members.”

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.