Mount St. Mary\’s University President Simon Newman resigned a week ago amid?criticism over the university\’s policies on academic freedom and a host of other problems. The episode drew national focus on the small Catholic university, which consists of 2,300 students.
\”I care deeply about the school, and also the recent publicity associated with my leadership is becoming too great of a distraction to our mission of educating students,\” Newman said inside a statement. \”It was a difficult decision, but I believe it is the best course of action for the Mount at the moment.\”
Newman invited criticism after his remarks comparing first-year students to bunnies that should be shot or drowned; he wanted to adopt policies that will weed out academically struggling freshmen. Tim Prudente from the Baltimore Sun reports that the criticism only intensified after Newman fired two professors and demoted the provost for objecting to such policies. Carrie Wells, another journalist for the Baltimore Sun, writes the professors have since been reinstated.
Faculty members voted by a margin of 87-3 for Newman\’s resignation, whereupon university boards, students, and professors nationwide began denouncing the president and criticizing?the kind of academic culture he created at Mount St. Mary\’s.
The American Association of University Professors wrote an open letter characterizing Newman’s policies and actions as \”fundamentally at odds with base standards of academic due process.\” Additionally, Susan Svrluga of The Washington Post notes that the faculty of Georgetown University voted to stand in solidarity with Mount St. Mary\’s disgruntled faculty \”in condemning the dismissal of two faculty members, one tenured, for alleged \’dishonesty.\’\”
Newman was named president of Mount St. Mary\’s, one of the oldest Catholic universities in the usa, in December of 2014. Upon being elected, Newman expressed his hope to \”raise of large amount of capital and begin a lot of programs and begin the university on a more aggressive growth trajectory.\”
Mathew Schmalz of Crux, a publication devoted to covering \”all things Catholic,\” notes the incident at Mount St.?Mary\’s has implications for Catholic advanced schooling nationwide. Many Catholic institutions have forfeit sight of the faith-based roots and have grown familiar with appointing individuals executive positions with little concern or interest in Catholic affairs, he writes. Advocates for Catholic higher education feel anxious and pessimistic his or her institutions find it difficult to grapple using the challenges, such as accreditation policies, vocational training, and rising costs, resulting from the changing nature of yankee higher education within the twenty-first century.
In principle, Newman\’s policies specified for to improve the university\’s retention rate. Newman exported his skills from the private sector, where he worked as a private equity chief who focused on profit-margins, growth, and sustainability. The nation learned that a businessman\’s results-oriented background may be at odds with the mindset needed for a university president.
Mount St. Mary\’s released an argument expressing \”thanks to Simon Newman for his work on our behalf and wish him well in the future endeavors.\” The note also asserted the faculty \”look toward working closely with Acting President Karl Einolf in the coming months.\”