March 02, 2016

Uproar at Mount St. Mary's

Sam Yu, The Frederick News-Post
Simon P. Newman is president of Mount St. Mary’s U., in Maryland. The dispute over a retention plan he pushed has now sparked a round of casualties. The provost, who was asked to step down, remains on the faculty, but two other professors were fired.
A controversial freshman-retention plan at Mount St. Mary's University of Maryland, and the way the institution has handled the ensuing criticism, has cast the small Roman Catholic campus, and its president, Simon P. Newman, in a harsh light. You can read Chronicle coverage, along with commentaries, in these articles. 

After Simon P. Newman compared struggling freshmen to bunnies who should be drowned, the Roman Catholic college was thrust into a weeks-long spotlight. Its new leader has tried to steady the ship.

Simon Newman’s "drown the bunnies" comment triggered the crisis that led to his resignation as the college’s president. But it was his temperament as a hard-nosed private-equity executive that may well have doomed his tenure from the start.

The controversial leader's resignation caps a weeks-long furor that drew national attention to the Roman Catholic university in rural Maryland.

The former private-equity chief executive threw his hat into the ring on the last day applications were accepted, promising to bring national exposure to the Maryland campus.

A trip down the rabbit hole of a scandalous analogy.

Many in academe have been quick to criticize Simon P. Newman’s response to the furor on the Maryland campus. Here’s how PR professionals would have done it differently.

The university encouraged Thane M. Naberhaus to meet with campus officials so they could "explore the possibility of conciliation."

The American Association of University Professors and free-speech groups are among those condemning the university’s abrupt dismissal of two faculty members this week.

Faculty members at Mount St. Mary’s University, in Maryland, are objecting to their president’s suggestion that they "drown the bunnies" to keep struggling students from making a mistake.

The dispute over a controversial retention plan pushed by the president of Mount St. Mary’s University has now sparked a round of casualties.

The president of Mount St. Mary’s University of Maryland has drawn fire for comments about steering underperforming freshmen from the campus. He says bad communication turned the situation messy.

Wanting to make "a bigger, global impact," Simon Newman left his financial jobs to lead Mount St. Mary’s University.

Disrespecting students and trampling the rights of faculty members at the Maryland university contradict the mission of Roman Catholic higher education.

For a president to effect change at a struggling institution, he needs to be able to count on his faculty to work with him, not against him.