Board’s Decision on McKenna’s Presidency Looming
Suffolk University’s Board of Trustees has moved the meeting at which they plan to vote President Margaret McKenna out of office to this Friday, February 5th, said Student Government Association president Colin Loiselle.
This emergency meeting was allegedly planned secretly, with the time and off-campus location being kept as private information. Both faculty and students have expressed concern with this lack of transparency.
“We haven’t been involved enough in the decisions the board has been making,” said Debra Harkins, Associate Professor of Psychology at Suffolk. “The board seems to be tone deaf to the students and faculty.”
A university town hall meeting will be held on Tuesday at 1 pm in the C. Walsh Theatre in order to rally together Suffolk’s faculty, staff, and students in defense of President Margaret McKenna. Attendees hope to gather press and discuss how to stand against the Board of Trustee’s looming decision to vote McKenna out of office.
“It’s the Board of Trustees that’s the problem,” said Loiselle confidently, adding that the board is jeopardizing the university’s reputation and financial stability by “airing their dirty laundry” and creating instability within leadership.
“This picture is a lot bigger than President McKenna,” he continued.
This opinion was shared by former SGA president Jared Cain from the class of 2008, who was quoted in a press release from a coalition of more than 200 SU alumni from various graduating years.
“We are deeply concerned that the University’s reputation may not withstand another leadership transition and that the Board of Trustees are willing to gamble with the future of the institution,” said Cain.
According to the press release, the alumni have organized to ask the board to postpone any vote “until all the information, evidence, and community input is heard.” They’ve raised over $4,000 in roughly 24 hours in order to help spread this message.
On campus, SGA is planning to halt the board’s decision by holding a vote of no confidence for Chairman Andrew Meyer during their general meeting this Thursday. This vote will be the first of its kind.
“I’m very proud of our students for standing up,” said Harkins, adding that she has never seen students rally behind a president like this in her nearly 20 years at the university. “She’s created something – a spark in students. They care about Suffolk.”
With a vote of no confidence potentially upon him, Meyer agreed to meet with SGA Monday morning. Loiselle, while pleased the chairman agreed to speak, doesn’t have high hopes for the meeting’s outcomes.
“It’s too little. It’s too late,” he said.
Unsure if the student and faculty movements will be capable of saving McKenna, Loiselle does feel that the students have good momentum to implement the “radical change” at the top that is needed.
“[McKenna] is the one that has the educational experience,” said Loiselle, adding that while he and the president have not always agreed, “at the end of the day, she’s always willing to talk about anything.”
Loiselle expressed confidence in McKenna’s ability to make decisions despite opposition from the board. According to Loiselle, McKenna decided to renew the lease for the Archer and Donahue buildings this year, upsetting the trustees but providing much-needed classroom space.
“I think the problem is McKenna came in with a vision,” said Loiselle. “Her take-charge approach has intimidated members of the board.”
Harkins expressed bafflement that the board would make such a decision so quickly, especially when McKenna has connected so well with the university’s diverse population.
“I think she lives and breathes social justice,” said Harkins. “She’s only been there for eight months and she’s already started to make movements.”