Mount St. Mary’s president fires two faculty members, one with tenure

Mount St. Mary’s fires two faculty members. One was tenured professor charged with lack of loyalty. The other advised student newspaper that recently exposed president’s quotes about “drowning bunnies.”
Last month The Mountain Echo, the student newspaper, revealed the debate over retention strategies and Newman’s quote about needing to view students as bunnies to be drowned. Mount St. Mary’s board members have repeatedly criticized the student newspaper for using leaked email messages in its reporting and accused faculty members of helping the students with the article. After the student newspaper reported on the issue, The Washington Post, Inside Higher Ed and others did so, and the quote drew nationwide attention (much of it critical).

Ed Egan, an alumnus of the university, has been serving as faculty adviser to The Mountain Echo, among other duties. He is the other faculty member who was fired Monday. Egan did not have tenure. He declined to comment. | Ryan Golden, managing editor of the newspaper, said he was “appalled” and upset by Egan’s dismissal. “He has been a good mentor for students, always encouraging us, always raising questions of ethics about our reporting.” | Frank D. LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said via email that he was very concerned about what happened to Egan. —Inside Higher Ed

12 thoughts on “Mount St. Mary’s president fires two faculty members, one with tenure

  1. Wow. Are all people in power going nuts right now? It seems like it. The firings hint that this man has far more to hide than a “drowning bunnies” quote.

    I see this from the student and faculty perspective. As a former student still paying off student loans, I’d be disgusted to learn my school president is trying to take students’ tuition and then devise schemes to “encourage” those students to quit. From the faculty perspective, especially concerning how “some faculty and support staff members were crying in various offices” because they no longer felt they were safe, those are the exact feelings my family and others have been dealing with since they hired CEO Nolan at the end of 2014. Once your employees are in that frame of mind, you can forget about productivity and loyalty.

    People in positions of power need to STOP looking at their underlings as numbers and dollar signs and see them as human beings who need to get through this life just like them. How dare any person in power quash a person’s livelihood in the name of vanity.

    • Jeanine, I believe the president actually wanted to offer to refund tuition to students who were struggling very early in the semester, rather than commit to spending money on extra support services to help these struggling students adjust to college, when statistically speaking, students who start struggling just a few weeks into a term are at high risk for having a disastrous semester and then not returning the following term. I don’t think the bunny-drowning language was a good rhetorical choice, and no matter the wording, I recognize that students from disadvantaged backgrounds will be disproportionately affected by such a starkly pragmatic plan.

    • I didn’t catch the part about the refund. That would be an interesting strategy if they refunded tuition. Though, I would hope that rather than just kicking these students out, they would set up a counseling program that would guide them and encourage them to seek a different kind of education. We’re getting to the point where jobs that pay a livable way require some form of higher education, even if that’s just a job training school, technical school, a certificate, or associates degree. I agree that a four-year college isn’t right for everyone and that other forms of higher ed are too often overlooked.

  2. I was planning on private messaging you about this. What exactly does tenure entail? I have seen tenure invoked to protect professors from abusive behavior like that of an engineering professor who stated that he didn’t believe that women should be engineers and that any women who took his class would fail. This was reported by a close friend in 1993. One would think that the primary purpose of tenure would be to protect professors with differing opinions on academic matters from their administration, something that did not happen here.

    • Tenure is not meant to protect professors who are incompetent (those who might stop submitting grades, or who only give out As, or whatever), who break laws, who undermine a university’s mission statement, etc. A sexist jerk may well invoke tenure to protect himself from being fired for voicing a sexist opinion, but let’s hope that by 1993 that argument would no longer work. Tenure is precisely meant to protect professors who, after proving during a probationary period that they are competent workers, in the course of participating in the shared governance of their university, voice opinions that challenge people in positions of power.

    • Will the tenured professor who was fired will now have to sue the University for breach of contract?

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