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.

Paul Murphy

Frederick

(3) comments

mamlukman

Your comment "...tough situation threatening the future of the Mount and that problem is financial." You must know something I don't. Have you seen the financial reports of MSM? Is there a financial problem? Is the solution to cut professors' retirement on the one hand and make the university bigger on the other? That sounds contradictory. When Hood was in some financial trouble a few years ago, they brought in Volpe. He seems to have solved the problem with praise all around--faculty, students, alumni. You don't have to be a jerk to solve a problem.

I don't know anything about Boston U. There may be cases where someone has to step in and make unpopular decisions to save the institution. We don't know that about MSM--we don't have enough information.

I was startled to see that the board of MSM has 37 people!!!! That's probably more than General Motors, and certainly a lot larger than the federal cabinet. They can't possibly have a coherent discussion among that many people. Are some of them (all of them?) simply window dressing? Token appointments? Again, I don't know. Just a question. But I've never come across a board this big.

KellyAlzan

It's way different today than 35-40 yrs ago.

It's called social media. Spreads worst than wild fire. Can make or break you in 20 minutes.

lewisantq

I too, have no connection with Mount St. Marys and I have closely followed the story as presented by the FNP. I think the FNP has been professional and has attempted to get opinions on all side of the issues. Much of the problem has been the outrageous comments and language of President Newman and his reluctance to quickly and publicly respond to the gathering storm. "No Comment" does not cut it in the age of social media. The administration ceded the field to it's opponents and is now playing catch-up. It's their own fault, not bias by the FNP. Bob Lewis

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