Tuesday, November 10, 2015

University Of Hard Knocks, Con't

Well it turns out University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe stepped down over an insufficient response to a number of racist incidents on campus this year, and now the bullseye is on university Chancellor Bowen Loftin.

The same day University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation, the deans of nine different MU colleges requested the dismissal of Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.

In a letter sent Monday to Wolfe and the UM Board of Curators, the deans said they wanted to express "our deep concern about the multitude of crises on our flagship campus" and call for Loftin's dismissal.

The nine deans met with Wolfe on Oct. 9 and on Oct. 13 met with Wolfe, Loftin and Provost Garnett Stokes to express their concerns, according to the letter.

"The issues we raised in those meetings have continued to deteriorate into a campus crisis that demands immediate and decisive action," they wrote. "It is the Chancellor’s responsibility as the Chief Executive Officer of the campus to effectively address these campus issues."

Loftin, the former president of Texas A&M University, has been chancellor at MU since February 2014.

The letter is signed by Daniel Clay, dean of the College of Education; Kristofer Hagglund, dean of the School of Health Professions; David Kurpius, dean of the School of Journalism; Judith Miller, dean of the Sinclair School of Nursing; Gary Myers, dean of the School of Law; Neil Olson, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine; Michael O'Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science; Thomas Payne, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; and Barton Wechsler, dean of the Truman School of Public Affairs.

The deans said Loftin has shown failed leadership through a number of instances, including the elimination and eventual reinstatement of graduate assistant health insurance and the elimination of the vice chancellor for health sciences position. The deans claim Loftin created a "toxic environment through threat, fear and intimidation."

"It is imperative to take immediate action to begin the process of resolving the issues and improving the environment," they wrote.

On Sunday, faculty members of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures sent a letter to the Curators saying they had no confidence in Loftin's leadership. The letter said 28 faculty members in the department expressed no confidence in Loftin; two abstained from the vote.

The faculty members said Loftin's leadership has created a "climate of mistrust, miscommunication, chaos, despair, and anger."

"The demoralizing campus climate under his lack of leadership is no longer conducive to our fundamental duties of teaching, research and service," the letter said. "We believe that the only way out of this impasse is to find a new Chancellor who … will find the resources needed to increase rather than dismantle the excellence of our institution."

So it turns out that yes, the problems at the University of Missouri have been ongoing for some time now, enough for multiple college deans to call for a chancellor's ouster.

But the backlash from the dregs of the Confederacy is pretty vocal.

This controversy, as with the current upheaval at Yale, suggests aggrieved students most desperately want administrators to acknowledge their pain and tell them they have a right to live free of emotional turmoil. But no competent administrator can provide them with this false sense of security, since the proper role of a university education is to help students overcome (rather than sidestep) challenges. 
In any case, Wolfe’s resignation also means that hyper-offended students are not as powerless as skeptics of the campus speech wars claim they are. I'm often told by these skeptics that the actions of outraged students are harmless because they never amount to anything, but this development at Missouri is a significant contrary example. 
I would be disheartened, but not at all surprised, to see more professors and administrators driven from campus for the crime of failing to erect suitable safe spaces.

How ridiculous, according to the right, that colleges and universities should work to actually do something about racism, sexual assault, and abuse on campus, when America, the greatest nation on earth, is full of racism, sexual assault, and abuse.

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