First let me disclose I have no past or present affiliation with Mount St. Mary’s University. I have never been a teacher at any level, never at a university, and do not know President Simon Newman.
The Frederick News-Post’s reporting on the controversy at the Mount has presented a negative bias toward Newman and an unquestioning acceptance of his critics’ positions. Newman’s ill-chosen remarks in regard to the students he would invite to leave were terrible, but they are not the core issue. My take is he has been hired to straighten out a tough situation threatening the future of the Mount and that problem is financial. In tackling the problem, he’s making some hard decisions. One, the pension plan of the faculty that has triggered opposition from them. Part of his program is to cull some students who probably shouldn’t have been admitted in the first place. He’s actually doing them a favor. And if his plan to act promptly to remove them saves them money, they will come to appreciate it later.
Some 35 to 40 years ago, Boston University was struggling and was considered an also-ran university. D. John Silber was hired as president and was more blunt and prone to undiplomatic statements than Newman. Twice the faculty voted to have him removed, but the board stuck with him and his program. Today, BU is a highly ranked university in sound financial condition. Newman brings Silber to mind.
Hard decisions draw flak. It’s important to note where the complaints come from and why. The faculty at the Mount has its own agenda, among other items, the pension revision. They present themselves as protectors of the reputation and heritage of the Mount when their true motivation may be the preservation of their privileges. The fake attempt at civility in the letter sent to Newman is discredited in its final sentence demanding a resignation by 9 a.m. Monday. Reasonable people?
I would hope that The News-Post would ask their reporters to work a little harder at getting to the heart of the issues the Mount may be facing instead of uncritically passing on the faculty position.
As to the opposition from groups of alumni, perhaps the paper’s reporting has invited their misunderstanding of the issues.
The board should be commended for standing by Newman and letting him do his job.