CONCORD, N.H. – A no-confidence vote against University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston was prompted by comments he made to a state Senate committee in which he said the faculty uses outmoded teaching styles rather than adapting to the way “digital natives” learn today, a faculty member said.

The faculty and the administration have been at odds about a labor contract for 18 months, but the April 18 comments before the Senate Finance Committee, which is considering cutting the state appropriation for New Hampshire state colleges by 45 percent, brought about Wednesday’s vote months before it would otherwise have been taken, said English Professor David Watters, a 33-year member of the UNH faculty.

“We know things are in tough shape with the state budget, and it just felt as if we were being thrown under the bus, as if we were the only reason,” he said.

In a statement in response to the vote, Huddleston said the vote was a tactic in a difficult labor dispute.

“The underlying issue is the uncertainty, even anxiety, everyone on campus feels — faculty, staff and students — about UNH’s appropriation from the state, and what it means to all that we do here,” his statement said. “I’m concerned about how we will provide for our faculty, our staff, and our students, and protect the work we do together. But I can’t make any promises about how we do all those things until we know what the state will do.”

The Concord Monitor reported that the faculty found offensive the following portion of Huddleston’s April 18 remarks:

“We still too frequently convey information in 50-minute lectures delivered by a ‘sage on the stage’ to largely passive recipients in the audience three times a week for 15 weeks a term — as if that schedule were biblically decreed and as if that were the way that ‘digital natives’ actually learn today. … And perhaps worst of all, we still cling, occasional rhetoric aside, to a vision of higher education that is both a way station and a world apart, where our primary mission is to take into our cloistered quadrangles a narrow band of 18- to 21-year-olds, educate and entertain them for four years and then send them off.”

Deanna Wood, president of the American Association of University Professors UNH Chapter, said more than 630 faculty members are covered by the union contract, with only about 420 eligible to vote. Of those, 202 cast ballots: 129 voted no-confidence, and 73 voted confidence.

“We wish that this vote hadn’t been necessary,” said Wood. “But we needed to get the president’s attention, to open more dialogue with the faculty.”