02 March 2016

What Happens When You Bring in a Finance Type to Shake Things Up

First, the break everything, and then they get fired:
Simon Newman, the Mount St. Mary’s University president who astonished many with a brutal remark, inspired some to a new vision for the university, and set off an intense national debate about academic freedom, will step down effective immediately.

Karl Einolf, the dean of the Richard J.Bolte, Sr., School of Business at the university will serve as acting president, the board of trustees announced Monday night.

The change came after weeks of turmoil at the country’s second-oldest Catholic university, which faced questions from its faculty, alumni and national groups — including the organization that provides the crucial accreditation for the university — over its future direction and leadership. Some saw it as a clash between those open to change and those mired in tradition. Others felt it had become a debate over the very soul of the university: Catholic or corporate?


Newman came to the Maryland campus in 2015 with plans for sweeping changes, such as boosting enrollment, shoring up the university’s finances and raising its national profile. His blunt business manner — he had been in the financial industry for his entire career — was welcome to some and jarring to others. Several people were abruptly fired and escorted off campus, and retiree benefits were cut in the fall. But the real turmoil began this year after the student newspaper, the Mountain Echo, reported that Newman had planned to cull struggling freshmen early in the semester, before a federal reporting deadline, to improve the university’s retention rate.

No students left the school as a result of the survey, but Newman’s remarks after some faculty members expressed concerns about the plan shocked many; he said a professor was thinking of the students as cuddly bunnies but that they had to drown the bunnies, “put a Glock to their heads.”

When two professors were subsequently fired — one with tenure, one who had been the adviser to the Echo — many interpreted it as retaliation for opposing Newman’s policies despite the administration’s denial that it was retribution.


There was another fear, as well: The Mount’s accreditation was just reaffirmed in June, with its next scheduled review report in 2020. But this month the Middle States Commission on Higher Education requested “a supplemental information report, due March 15, 2016, addressing recent developments at the University which may have implications for continued compliance with Requirement of Affiliation #9, Standard 4 (Leadership and Governance), Standard 6 (Integrity), Standard 8 (Student Admissions and Retention), and Standard 10 (Faculty).”
This sh%$ is what happens when you hire someone whose qualifications basically consist of being a parasite from the finance industry.


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