The executive council of the Faculty Senate appears to have closed the book on questions that arose about the resume of University of Montana President Seth Bodnar — and voiced full support for the new leader.
Earlier this month, Faculty Senate Chair Mary-Ann Bowman approached the administration with questions a non-faculty member raised about entries in Bodnar's resume. She and other faculty leaders later talked with Bodnar, who pledged to update the document into "an academically-oriented CV (curriculum vitae)."
Thursday, members of the executive council said the matter has been addressed for the time being having been taken to the president.
"We have considered this issue resolved," Bowman said.
At the meeting, faculty members also said they support the president. At the same time, they want to be able to ask questions when they arise, and Bowman said raising questions is part of a transparent campus.
"For us to carry forward somebody's questions does not mean that we are being disrespectful," Bowman said. "I don't know how many times to say it. The faculty support this president."
"Our intent was to be helpful," said Senator Anne Delaney.
Bodnar stepped into the leadership role at UM last month from General Electric, and has a background in the corporate and military worlds. Questions about his resume are the first sign of friction on campus from having a relative outsider take the wheel in academia.
In the resume he submitted for the job, Bodnar omitted the co-author of a journal article, which he said he will revise. He also identified himself as an "assistant professor" at West Point from 2009 to 2011, although he was not promoted from instructor until January 2011.
Bodnar said the resume reflects the highest rank he received during the assignment, a typical way to describe service in the military: "This is a common practice for officers in reflecting their West Point time on their resumes."
Through a UM spokeswoman, a retired brigadier general concurred with Bodnar.
In 2015, a similar situation occurred with the incoming president of the University of Iowa, Bruce Harreld, according to a news story from the Press-Citizen. The story said the faculty assembly of the university's largest college approved a motion to censure Harreld at the time "for inaccuracies in his resume."
Harreld remains president at UI, and in a brief email Thursday, the head of the UI faculty senate said the president works well with professors. Faculty Senate President Peter Snyder also said Harreld works hand in hand with other groups on campus.
"President Harreld has a very good working relationship with UI faculty, as well as students and staff. He is a strong advocate for shared governance," Snyder said in an email.
At UM, the matter may be resolved at least for now, but an ethicist said any questions should have been handled much earlier.
Deni Elliott, a professor and ethicist at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, said she believes a head-hunting firm typically would have already conducted a vetting that is now taking place at UM. Elliott has expertise in the field of academic ethics and is coordinating principal investigator on the National Ethics Project, which is studying the state of ethics in higher education.
However, she also said candidates who are applying for positions in a particular field are responsible for appropriately presenting their experience.
"People who are applying for leadership positions within a particular university or higher education system have an ethical obligation to present themselves in a way that is best understood within the conventions of the system in which they're applying," said Elliott, who served previously as the director of the UM Practical Ethics Center.
Last year, AGB Search led the recruitment for a UM president, and the lead consultant could not be reached Thursday for comment via voicemail.