[Last updated (2/12/2016, 7:23 p.m.) with comments from Ed Egan, one of the faculty members dismissed and then offered reinstatement.]
The president of Mount St. Mary’s University has reinstated the two faculty members who were fired for disloyalty this week, according to a statement from the institution on Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, the faculty of the troubled Maryland campus voted overwhelmingly to ask the university’s president to resign.
But one of the faculty members offered reinstatement — Thane M. Naberhaus, a tenured associate professor of philosophy — said he would not accept the college’s proposal. “Hell no,” Mr. Naberhaus said in response to an email asking if he would agree to the reinstatement. “Not going back until he’s gone,” he said, referring to the university’s embattled president, Simon P. Newman.
Also on Friday, the Mount St. Mary’s faculty voted to demand that Mr. Newman resign by Monday at 9 a.m., Eastern time. In an open letter, faculty members said they had voted, 87 to 3, to demand the president step down.
“Our community is suffering,” the letter reads. “In recent weeks, we have been divided due to miscommunications, missteps, and misunderstandings. It is clear that we all could have done things differently to avoid the situation that we now find ourselves in. Regrettably, our problems have become public and have cast a shadow across our holy mountain.”
The firings of Mr. Naberhaus and Ed Egan, the non-tenured former adviser to the student newspaper, provoked widespread outrage from the academic community.
Mr. Egan said the president called him on Friday afternoon and offered to reinstate him as an act of “mercy,” which implied that he and the student journalists, who had published the first article about the controversy, had done something wrong.
“I told him I’d have to think about it,” Mr. Egan said.
He drove to the faculty meeting and told his colleagues he was mulling his options.
“I told them I thought this was an attempt to placate the faculty” to pre-empt a no-confidence vote, Mr. Egan said. “I said that reinstating Ed Egan and Thane Naberhaus won’t make all of the other serious, fundamental problems we’ve been hearing and reading about in the national media go away, and that I think the president needs to show mercy to Mount St. Mary and resign.”
In a news release, President Newman said: “We will work to implement the initiatives we agree are important for our student’s future and our university’s future. And most importantly eliminate the feelings of fear and injustice that any may be harboring, work through our misunderstandings, and make a new beginning as a unified team. You have my solemn commitment to work together to restore our relationship and our school.”
In the university statement, a member of the Board of Trustees, the Rev. Kevin Farmer, said the board “continues to support” Mr. Newman. He added: “We embrace his vision for the future of the university and believe he is the best person to carry it out. We have every desire to resolve the tension on campus and move forward together.”
The controversy began after Mr. Newman’s remarks about a student-retention plan, comparing students to “bunnies” that should be drowned, was published in the student newspaper. The subsequent faculty firings drew nationwide attention to the campus.
Hans-Joerg Tiede, associate secretary of the American Association of University Professors, said in an email to The Chronicle that if the reinstatement was “unconditional,” it would be a “welcome turn of events.”
“However,” he added, “the recent developments have brought to light concerns over the conduct of governance at the institution that will clearly need to be addressed collaboratively between the faculty, Board of Trustees, and administration.”
He said the events at the university had “raised concerns over conditions for academic freedom and the meaning of tenure at Mount St. Mary’s University. The reinstatement of the two faculty members by itself does not alleviate these concerns entirely.”
Katherine Mangan contributed to this article.Return to Top