Should Professors Be Fired for Damaging a College's Reputation
This January, two students at Mount St. Mary’s University reported in the campus newspaper, The Mountain Echo, that their college president planned to dismiss about two dozen students in September in an effort to improve the school’s retention rate. In a now-infamous conversation with a small group of faculty and administrators, the president, Simon Newman, explained that professors shouldn’t feel so sentimental about holding on to students who are unlikely to succeed. “This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t,” The Mountain Echo quoted Newman as saying. “You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads.”
Needless to say, the story of a college administrator who compares struggling teenage students to fluffy woodland creatures that should be murdered with a semi-automatic pistol is a PR disaster. It’s not exactly the caring sentiment that parents expect from a small, traditional Catholic college in rural Maryland that has promised to protect their children.
The controversy continued to unfold when, in the following weeks, Newman inflamed tensions by dismissing Ed Egan, the untenured faculty adviser of the campus newspaper, and Thane Naberhaus, a tenured philosophy professor and frequent critic of Newman’s policies. Both faculty members received letters accusing them of disloyalty to the university. After the story was covered by the national news media, Newman quickly reinstated the faculty members.