UCOSA vote of confidence for Lamb fails days before inauguration

Jake Ramsey & Titus Leong

Managing Editor & Contributing Writer

President Todd Lamb (UCO/PROVIDED)

     UCO Student Association’s vote of confidence for UCO President Todd Lamb failed just days before his April 26 inauguration. The vote took place in executive session on April 22 after Lamb did not respond to Narcan vending machine legislation, as well as diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) legislation presented by the group.

     In the vote, 14 senators voted in favor of Lamb and 19 against, with six abstentions. It was a part of a resolution drafted by then-President Lauren Harman, and then-Chair of Congress Izzi Barry to abide by the Regional University System of Oklahoma (RUSO) Board’s policy manual. The manual states that the president’s reappointment is based on the “support and respect of the many constituencies for which the president has responsibility.”

     Listed as the constituencies for the president under the RUSO policy manual are other administrators, faculty, students and parents, staff and other employees, alumni and communities.

     In an April 19 interview with The Vista, UCOSA President Lauren Harman discussed the reasoning behind the vote of confidence, beyond just the RUSO policy manual.

     “To kind of just show the students’ voice and give feedback to how students are feeling about the university president at the current time,” said Harman.

     As noted by Harman, the Faculty Senate also holds an annual vote of confidence for the university president. The Faculty Senate’s vote passed 19-1-1 on March 14. In an interview with The Oklahoman, Lamb characterized the Faculty Senate vote as a “landslide.” He also reiterated to the paper that he does not have to respond to student legislation. 

     After the executive session ended, Cole Stanley, associate vice president for student affairs and one of two advisers to UCOSA, expressed frustration with the failed vote of confidence to the senators.

     “I just really wonder, does the campus community feel like Todd Lamb has done a disservice as being the president?” Stanley said after the executive session.

     Stanley said he worried that the UCOSA senators might not be properly representing their constituents in the student body by voting against confidence. Senators argued that the legislation put forward by UCOSA was the student voice, and that the lack of response toward issues such as Narcan vending machines or DEI on campus was the reason for the no responses in the confidence vote.

     No senators provided further comment on the matter outside of the meeting. 

     UCOSA President-elect Cooper Autry predicts a positive relationship with Lamb during his upcoming presidency.

     “Personally, I have had a very positive relationship with President Lamb, and I greatly appreciate his strong presence on our campus,” Autry said. “Once my term begins, I commit to working with him in my administration as student body president in a constructive and respectful manner on behalf of our student body.”

     Autry then pointed out that he was not involved in drafting, introducing or voting upon the confidence legislation.

     In an e-mail from Adrienne Nobles, vice president for communications and public affairs, she said, “President Lamb has had open and productive conversations with UCO students with UCO students, including UCOSA members, throughout the academic year and as recently as this past week.”

     “He meets monthly with UCOSA leadership and offers all UCO students the opportunity to sign up for Lunch with Lamb every two weeks to engage in direct conversation with him and the First Lady,” she said. “President Lamb looks forward to continuing a collaborative relationship with UCOSA.”

      UCOSA’s failed vote of confidence is not the first time concern has been expressed to the RUSO Board concerning Lamb.

     On May 20, 2023, a letter from the UCO chapter of American Association of University Professors (AAUP) was sent to the RUSO Board.

     Signed by the President of the UCO Chapter of the AAUP Marc Goulding, the letter read, “Quite recently, both our chapter of AAUP and our UCO Faculty Senate forwarded a statement to RUSO regarding the qualifications that faculty feel are necessary for a university president.”

The four qualifications included:

  • An earned doctorate
  • Teaching experience
  • Experience going through promotion and tenure
  • Professional experience in higher education

     The letter also stated, “These qualifications have to do with expertise and experience. Political appointments will not serve our students’ interests.”

     The qualifications put forward by the AAUP were, according to the letter, “thoroughly discussed and debated, and it should be noted that the resolution passed unanimously through Senate.” 

     AAUP acknowledged in the letter that Lamb does have a Juris Doctorate and served as an adjunct professor in the past, meeting two of the qualifications that both AAUP and the Faculty Senate felt a university president should have.

     AAUP sent a prior letter to the RUSO Board with the listed qualifications. The first letter was sent on April 7, 2023.

     AAUP also expressed concerns over the lack of transparency in the hiring process of President Lamb, asking in the May 20 letter that, “For the welfare of the students of UCO, in their interests, this non-transparent and closed-off process must be changed.”

     Lamb was selected by the RUSO Board for the position of president on May 18, 2023, assumed presidency on July 1, 2023 and was inaugurated on April 26, 2024.

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