Story by Carlos Hernandez, Staff Writer
Image courtesy of higheredprofessor
In the beginning days of the 2015-2016 school year, Mt. Saint Mary’s University President Simon Newman went forth with a new idea to raise the retention rate of the university in time. This had incoming freshmen take a survey during orientation, using that information to monitor at-risk students, and encouraging them to drop out of college if they showed no promise in the first month of classes with a full tuition refund.
This new method was met with immediate opposition from a handful of staff members who disapproved of Newman’s questionable tactics. Despite this, he went forth with his plan and in the wake of these events, two professors were fired from their jobs. Tenured professor Thane Naberhaus and school newspaper advisor Professor Edward Egan. According to the school newspaper, “The Mountain Echo,” Naberhaus was fired for refusing to supply Newman with student records and Egan was fired for a code of conduct violation against fair use policy.
In Egan’s case, the article in question included e-mail conversations between Newman and Provost David Rehm. The use of these e-mails were deemed legal by professional reporters in the area, as well as the Student Press Law Center in Washington D.C., according to a follow-up article by “The Mountain Echo” managing editor Ryan Golden. The first article was originally planned for its December issue, but due to the controversial content of the story, the news team had to delay it to make sure the issue was handled carefully and if they were within their legal limits.
In response to the termination of these two professors, President Newman experienced immediate backlash from national media and the college’s faculty. Said faculty met and agreed (in a vote of 87-3) to request Newman’s resignation on by the morning of Monday, February 15. The two professors have also been given the option to come back to the college, but both refuse to until Newman has left the college permanently.
As of Monday, President Newman has declined the staff’s request and is still currently there and continues his work to improve the college. In the aftermath of Monday, February 15, he has gained supporters, one of whom being board member Reverend Kevin Farmer. Farmer admits though Newman’s way of explaining his motives were unfortunate (Newman used an unfavorable drowning bunny metaphor), he supports the President and believes he can do good things for the school. The controversy continues with the President being criticized by the nation. A petition collected 4,000 outraged professors about the two professors losing their jobs, and D.C.-based Georgetown University is supporting Mt. St. Mary’s for ‘academic freedom.’
For more information on the issue, visit The Washington Post’s website for continuing coverage and “The Mountain Echo” for their December 19 articles in response to the President’s controversial plan.
About the writer…
Carlos “Eddie” Hernandez is a fourth year student at Aquinas and has been writing for the newspaper for a year and a half. He is an Acting and Music Major and is also a member of AQPB. His hobbies include ponies and Pokèmon. Other hobbies include eating and sleeping.