But he had some reservations.
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But he had some reservations.
Stewart, a professor at Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, worried about how the political climate in Texas would affect the revival of the long-defunct journalism program. He expressed his skepticism during the hiring process, laying out his concerns that politicians would exert pressure on the program and that it would need to answer to higher-ups in order to maintain support. Attempts to assuage his concerns, he says, mostly reinforced them.
“They would say things like, ‘You may have heard that there’s a push to build a conservative journalism program,’” says Stewart. “Or, ‘You may have worries that there’s some influence happening to make this be a Fox News pipeline.’”
Stewart didn’t know it then, but the dynamics that fueled his concerns would light a spark that exploded a powder keg of controversy on campus this past summer.
In early July, The Texas Tribune broke the story that Texas A&M administrators derailed the hiring of Kathleen O. McElroy, a tenured professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and a former New York Times editor, to run the journalism program in response to conservative criticism about previous statements she’d made about diversity and objectivity in journalism. After an internal investigation was released, the full picture emerged: Texas A&M’s president, M. Katherine Banks, and an interim dean, José Luis Bermúdez, worked behind closed doors to water down McElroy’s offer from a tenured position with no end date to a one-year appointment.
As the university reeled from the news storm surrounding McElroy, another Tribune report documented how Joy Alonzo, a nontenured professor who studies opioids, was placed on paid leave following her guest lecture at the University of Texas Medical Branch. A complaint about a comment Alonzo made concerning Texas’ lieutenant governor went all the way up to the Texas A&M University system’s top brass, and the lieutenant governor’s office.
In some respects, the fallout was swift: Banks and Bermúdez resigned for their role in scuttling McElroy’s hiring (Banks retired, but Bermúdez remains on the faculty). In other respects, the two closely timed bombshells continue to shock the campus as classes have gotten underway. The incidents have left faculty members questioning how the state’s contentious political climate and Texas A&M’s internal dynamics paved the way for the national scandals.
The faculty “cannot speak out about our administration or disagree with our administration without retaliation.”
Early on in the interview process for the top-job in the journalism program, Stewart characterized the interactions about political pressure as subtle, minor undercurrents. However, in more-frank conversations with people in the department, Stewart says he was told concerns about “political influence and upper-level micromanagement” had been “handled” and that he had nothing to worry about. Months later, Stewart says the internal investigation that revealed messages from a regent about the conservative-oriented “purpose” of the new program confirmed his fears.
“There was what the college and the department thought they were doing — and certainly what they were telling me they were doing — and what the higher level administrators thought they were doing,” Stewart says. “I think there’s a real disconnect there.”
Many faculty members who spoke to The Chronicle on campus last month say a top-down power dynamic has diminished shared governance there and exacerbated fears about the institution’s vulnerability to outside pressure. And they say this dynamic has exposed their campus’s culture to be one in which faculty members sense that they can’t freely express their concerns.
Some changes under new university leadership have already led some faculty members to feel like Texas A&M is moving in the right direction. But it still won’t be an easy journey. Overcoming the past and culture never is.
A recent survey, conducted by state chapters of the American Association of University Professors from mid-August to early September, gave voice to these sentiments. Describing a “culture of fear,” one self-identified Texas A&M faculty member wrote in an open-response section that the faculty “cannot speak out about our administration or disagree with our administration without retaliation.” Another wrote that faculty morale was the worst they’d ever seen, indicating that the main issue was a “top-down leadership style which does not allow for faculty input.”
Tracy A. Hammond, the speaker of Texas A&M’s Faculty Senate, has heard similar complaints in private. She says it’s revealed a culture that she describes as “immersed in fear and retaliation.”
“That is what really needs to be worked on,” Hammond, a professor of computer science and engineering, told The Chronicle the week before undergraduates and the faculty returned to campus. “It’s less about every single detail coming out, as opposed to making sure that everything moving forward is filled with transparency.”
One of the most striking things she noted in the revelations that followed the summer’s two debacles was how, when policies and procedures weren’t followed, few appeared to raise any red flags. “If you don’t get past the part of the fear-and-retaliation culture,” she says, “you can’t fix anything.”
Jaime Grunlan, a professor of mechanical engineering who has worked at A&M for nearly 20 years, says the university’s top-down approach hasn’t always been a bad thing. He points to Banks’s success as the engineering-school dean, during which she elevated its profile. But the retaliation side effect of the power structure is worse than Grunlan has ever seen.
“We already had a very top-down, militaristic type of structure, probably more than most universities,” he says. “Something comes from on high and just gets shoved right down 20 levels to me, and no one is supposed to question it.”
That was a fear for Shannon Van Zandt, a professor of urban planning. After the story about McElroy broke, she resigned from her administrative post as executive associate dean of the School of Architecture.
Van Zandt had already been thinking about resigning after the passage of Texas’ new DEI law made her question how she would be able to carry out her job — one she accepted with the hopes of centering equity and fairness in the tenure and promotion process. But McElroy’s case was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Van Zandt’s resignation letter stated she could not continue in her post because she couldn’t assure the faculty that politicians wouldn’t interfere in university processes. She was also afraid that she would have to execute plans she opposed without having a way to challenge them.
For Van Zandt and others, administrative control tightened under Banks’s presidency. “Shared governance is something that we have struggled with,” she says. “With President Banks, it became even more so. She consolidated power within the president’s office, and I think we lost what voice we did have.”
Breakdowns between faculty members and administrators over shared governance at Texas A&M have made headlines before this past summer. A year ago, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution that proclaimed shared governance was “no longer functioning” after it said Banks pushed through major changes that ignored faculty input, including the widely criticized elimination of tenure for librarians. Those changes were a part of the Path Forward, a plan Banks championed that called for academic restructuring and operations centralization despite faculty dissent.
The legitimacy of the plan and the tactics Banks used to push it through have been further called into question since her departure. In response to widespread faculty concerns, a recently released assessment of Banks’s plan found that it “lacked collaboration, transparency, and accountability.” The report concluded that some of Banks’s changes weakened shared governance and said the university must “restore mechanisms to engage faculty and staff.”
“Academic program decisions, especially curricular choices, need to return to the faculty with less top-down directed solutions,” the assessment stated.
Dana Gaddy, a professor in the department of veterinary integrative biosciences, has always had reservations about Banks’s Path Forward. She recalls that some members of the Faculty Senate entertained the idea of proposing a vote of no confidence over discontent with the plan. But the group ultimately opted for a milder option in the resolution, declaring that the university’s shared-governance system was broken.
“In retrospect, I’m sure there are many of us kicking ourselves for just not putting it out there just to see whether or not it would fly,” says Gaddy, referring to the no-confidence vote. “It could have saved us a lot of grief.”
The Chronicle could not reach Banks for comment.
Concerns about the growth of administrative power at the expense of faculty representation are far from new. (Take the clash at West Virginia University over proposed academic program cuts.) But the recent incidents at Texas A&M have amplified faculty fears that administrators simply won’t stand up to political pressure, or are more apt to crack in the absence of a strong shared-governance system that, however inefficient it may be, can offer checks and balances against efforts to curtail academic freedom.
“The recent events at Texas A&M have sent a chilling message to me and many other faculty, tenured or not, that the current state government is intent on suppressing or attacking protected speech by every means possible,” one Texas faculty member wrote in the AAUP survey. “And the means grow ever more possible, especially now that the top universities in Texas have pliable presidents. Say what you will about the past presidents at my institution, they were willing and able to resist these efforts. No longer.”
Such sentiments are indicative of an “existential crisis” about administrative power that faculty members are grappling with across the nation, says Demetri L. Morgan, an associate professor of higher education at Loyola University Chicago. Morgan says that what happened at Texas A&M is not necessarily an aberration of shared-governance or higher-education norms; rather, it is an example of how administrators can, and sometimes do, act today.
Administrative power has grown over time — in part, Morgan notes, because faculty members abdicated some responsibilities to administrators as the focus on teaching and research intensified. In the decades since that transition, there has been a continual push-pull between faculty and administrators that plays out in conflicts over shared governance.
But certain issues, such as curriculum and hiring, have long been viewed by faculty members as topics that are unquestionably under their purview. Now, Morgan says, higher education has entered an era where the faculty-administrative relationship has become less deferential in some of those “sacred” areas, heightening faculty members’ fears about administrative power and political pressure impeding on the issues where they feel their expertise matters most. Morgan says this tension has led to a tipping point where many faculty members are reconsidering their working dynamic with administrators — and that it may be time for a different approach.
“Where we’re at right now is encroachments that are moving into lands and domains that have historically been better delineated,” Morgan says. “We’re seeing some of those lines be crossed in unashamed ways” that are, he says, widely seen by faculty members as “new and unprecedented.”
The day after McElroy was welcomed with balloons to the College Station campus, the Texas Scorecard, a conservative media outlet, published a story that called McElroy a “diversity advocate.” In the days that followed, concerns from the system’s Board of Regents and others flooded in.
The response of administrators to those messages, as detailed in a system investigation and in public records obtained by The Chronicle, reveals just how much conservative Texas A&M leaders’ and outsiders’ vision for the journalism program conflicted with what faculty members were planning — and which influences ultimately won out.
The regent Michael A. Hernandez III wrote in a letter to Banks and John Sharp, the system’s chancellor, that McElroy was “exactly the opposite” of who they expected to lead the journalism program. Jay Graham, another regent, wrote in a group chat that McElroy’s appointment would undercut the journalism program’s “purpose” of “getting high-quality Aggie journalists with conservative values into the market.” Graham continued that it would be contrary to the broader goal that Banks had purportedly endorsed: combining arts and sciences disciplines in a single college to “control the liberal nature that those professors brought to campus.”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better qualified candidate.
The consolidation of the arts and sciences colleges was carried out as a part of Banks’s “path forward” plan. The recent assessment of her plan found that “the rationale for this merger was not and still has not been clearly articulated.”
In a statement to The Chronicle, which is the first public statement on the Board of Regents’ role in the hiring, William (Bill) Mahomes Jr., the board’s chairman, said the group met and discussed McElroy’s hiring, but it took “no action” and did not “direct administrators to modify the terms of her offer.” Mahomes said the board feels “a collective sense of failure and regret” about the handling of her hiring, adding that the board apologized to McElroy and learned from its mistakes. (Texas A&M reached a $1-million settlement with McElroy last month.) The Board of Regents did not respond to specific questions from The Chronicle about whether it exerted pressure on the journalism program to lean conservative, or about the merger of the arts and sciences colleges.
“This Board of Regents is committed to academic freedom and faculty input into the board’s responsibility for governance,” Mahomes said in the statement. “The board is also committed to fulfilling its responsibility for strategic oversight of academic degree programs, especially emerging ones.”
The communications among the regents that emerged in the system’s investigation were news to Tom Burton, an associate professor of the practice in journalism and communications who served on the search committee that hired McElroy. Burton says McElroy checked “every possible box we could ask for.” He particularly admired her vision for the program, including hands-on field experiences and proposals to report in news deserts. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better qualified candidate,” he says.
But the Texas Scorecard article underscored different aspects of McElroy’s background, pointing to an opinion piece she wrote about faculty diversity and her service on a diversity council at UT-Austin. Some critics also took issue with her previous statements about objectivity in journalism, including a comment she made in a 2021 interview that journalists “can’t just give people a set of facts anymore” in an apparent critique of “both-sidesism,” or a debate over whether all sides of an issue should always receive equal coverage. The article also noted that SB 17, the state’s new law banning DEI offices starting in 2024, prohibits universities from hiring employees to “perform the duties” of a DEI office.
Inside the hiring process, Burton says, diversity and equity issues hardly came up with McElroy. In fact, Burton says McElroy was the only candidate in the search who did not submit a DEI statement. After her contract fell apart because of what McElroy said administrators characterized as “DEI hysteria,” she told The New York Times that DEI efforts had only been “a small part” of her career in journalism and academe.
Nonetheless, Texas Scorecard’s rendering of McElroy raised alarms for Matt Poling, president of the Rudder Association, an alumni and student group formed in 2020 in response to calls to tear down a statue of a Confederate general on campus. The Rudder Association brought these concerns about McElroy’s hiring to Susan Ballabina, Texas A&M’s chief officer of external affairs, specifically highlighting the misalignment between McElroy’s previous statements and the “will of the people of Texas,” as outlined in SB 17. “We’re very comfortable, and I would say proud of, the small role we might have played in this and don’t regret engaging in such an important issue,” Poling says.
He also defended the text message about orienting the journalism program to support conservative journalists in the context of widespread conservative discontent with journalism and academe. “That was treated as if it was some kind of a smoking gun. It’s not a smoking gun. It’s an obvious fact,” Poling says. “Academia and journalism are both suffering from a lack of diversity, but it’s not the kind of diversity they want to talk about. It’s much more seriously lacking in viewpoint diversity, which is the more important aspect of diversity with respect to both academia and journalism.”
In his statement on behalf of the Board of Regents, Mahomes said it is “no secret that Texas A&M is widely seen as conservative.” Mahomes wrote that this reputation comes from the university’s history of developing military leaders and students who have a “strong character with a public-service mind-set.” Such sentiments were echoed in a Texas A&M press release last week, which boasted recent rankings that rated the institution as the 13th most conservative university in the nation.
“This just goes to show that the more things change here at A&M, the more things stay the same,” Sharp, the system’s chancellor, said in the release. “Texans still cherish the values that made America great, and A&M offers a top-notch education that’s affordable and accessible to all. It’s no wonder that so many Texans — and those who love traditional Texas values — choose A&M.”
I wouldn’t recommend my worst enemy to take that job.
Angelique Gammon, another associate professor of the practice of journalism on the hiring committee, says the idea of creating a conservative journalism program was not considered in whom the department chose. Nor should it have been, she says.
“No one gave us that charge as the hiring committee to seek a particular kind of candidate. That isn’t how the processes within the university work,” says Gammon. She has students with both conservative and liberal viewpoints, and, she says, “it doesn’t change how I teach the basic media-ethics and media-style reporting in my classes.”
Mahomes, the regents’ chairman, said in his statement that Texas A&M’s conservative tradition “comfortably co-exists” with faculty members across the political spectrum, and he noted that the board “supports faculty who teach students how to think and not what to think, who prepare learners by cultivating critical-thinking skills and encouraging free and open inquiry and discourse.”
For now, the business of establishing the journalism department is moving ahead. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the university’s journalism-degree plan. Even though some progress may be slower without a director, Burton, the associate professor, says, the department has the money to hire new faculty positions, and to pay for physical spaces and equipment.
“It’s a detour for sure,” he says. “But it’s not a dead end.”
It remains unclear who will take the department’s top job. Stewart, the TCU professor who was a finalist for the position and declined to continue pursuing the job in the spring for family reasons, says that if he were offered the position today, he would “absolutely” turn it down: “I wouldn’t recommend my worst enemy to take that job.”
He worries that the Board of Regents and other political actors putting pressure on Texas A&M may be even more “emboldened” after McElroy.
“They get these ideas about how they’re going to fix higher education, get all the liberals out, and that sort of stuff. And then the administrators kind of talk them down and do some reality checking with them, and let the faculty and university people do their jobs,” Stewart says. “That’s the way this usually goes. And that’s not what happened at Texas A&M.”
“I understand the fear of that, and I understand how the events this summer led people to believe that was happening routinely,” Welsh, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force, told The Chronicle. “My data point is only six weeks long. But in that window, it has not happened to me.”
And he intends to keep it that way.
At his first Faculty Senate appearance as the university’s new interim president, Welsh faced an avalanche of questions from faculty members about political influence. It prompted a bold declaration.
The first order of business is to make sure that we get back to what is clearly the most successful model of governance for a university, which is shared governance.
“If a regent calls me and says ‘I’m really worried about this,’ I’ll say, ‘Thank you for the call.’ But I won’t tell a department head who to hire,” the interim president told the senate. It’s a commitment Welsh says he’s shared directly with the Board of Regents, too.
Over the past few weeks, he has tried to reassure the faculty by announcing broad goals to shore up communication across the institution and improve openness in decision-making. He has also moved quickly to tackle issues that have sowed the most uneasiness. Welsh told The Chronicle that his main priorities as president have been a direct response to faculty concerns about the university’s culture and top-down leadership dynamics.
“The first order of business is to make sure that we get back to what is clearly the most successful model of governance for a university, which is shared governance.” For such governance to thrive, he says the campus “has to create a very different climate” from what it has been.
He formed a task force to protect academic freedom, which has already made recommendations to change how complaints about the faculty are handled and create guidelines for those who “encounter harassing or threatening situations.” Welsh also ordered the reassessment of the efforts under Banks’s Path Forward plan, with a specific directive of eliciting campuswide feedback on proposed adjustments, including codifying academic freedom for librarians who lost tenure and forging ahead with the journalism program.
Because the Path Forward plan was a key “source of frustration” for faculty members, who felt their voices were excluded, Welsh says he designed the reassessment process of the plan to be the opposite. He says feedback collected over five weeks from over 100 meetings informed the assessment’s recommendations. Over 2,000 comments and responses from small groups and town halls will inform his final decisions on the assessment’s recommendations, which will be announced on October 4.
The process is his bid to show the faculty how he wants to lead the university. “This isn’t just a one-time thing,” Welsh says. “This kind of communication has to continue. It’s the only way for the university to be as successful as I know it can be.”
Gaddy, the professor who works in the vet school, says Welsh has been receptive to faculty concerns about how the university operated under Banks. After seeing Welsh’s listening sessions and town halls about the Path Forward review, Gaddy says she is “far more hopeful” now about the direction of the university than she was a few weeks ago. “And I’m not alone in that assessment,” she adds.
Still, Welsh acknowledges that he has a long way to go to earn trust after everything that’s happened. He also recognizes how his military background may impede perceptions about his commitment to improving shared governance. “There were some concerns, I’m sure, among some faculty members when I became the acting president because, ‘Oh my gosh, now it’s a general. It’s gonna get more militaristic,’” Welsh says. “‘You know, he’s gonna bark and expect people to jump.’”
But Welsh says his top goal as interim president is ensuring that faculty and staff members feel like their voices matter. “The only way to rebuild trust is through steady, persistent communication, and showing people that you are trustworthy,” Welsh says. “The leadership of the university and each of us as individuals have to be part of that.”
“As much as the university wants to paint him as ‘He’s going to come in and fix this, he’s someone new,’ he essentially is the same” as the “kinds of characters that were involved in all these other external controversies,” says Bright, a professor in the department of public service and administration. “He’s cut from the same cloth.”
The Texas A&M system wrote in a statement to The Chronicle that it denies Bright and Snider’s accusations and is “defending both lawsuits vigorously.”
Bright is the sole Black tenured faculty member in the Bush School, according to his lawsuit. In 2020, he filed an employment-discrimination suit against Texas A&M that says he endured discriminatory treatment in the promotion process and retaliation that amounted to a hostile work environment. His case was dismissed by a district court, which is largely in keeping with the courts’ traditional deference to institutions of higher education on questions of tenure and promotion. Bright has appealed the decision.
His lawsuit accuses Welsh of withdrawing from Bright’s bid for promotion, which, Bright says, hurt his chances of being granted full professorship. While a review subcommittee of the University Grievance Committee found that Welsh properly recused himself, a draft of its report obtained by Bright and shared with The Chronicle found that the reasons for Welsh’s recusal were “troubling.” In an interview with the subcommittee, Welsh characterized Bright as being “aggressive, bullying, not civil,” and not respectful,” the report said. The committee found that contradictory to other assessments of Bright’s conduct.
Along with another comment, by a different administrator, that Bright was physically “large” in a way that implied he could be intimidating, the committee wrote that Welsh and the other administrator “characterizing African American males as large, aggressive and not respectful, evokes an awful and damaging Jim Crow-era stereotype, a stereotype that should be assiduously shunned.” The subcommittee also took issue with Welsh’s continued oversight of Bright in other capacities, even after he recused himself from Bright’s promotion case.
In an affidavit in Bright’s lawsuit, Welsh said he recused himself because he felt it was the “fairest thing to do” given his view of Bright’s “unnecessarily disrespectful communication.”
“I come from a professional military culture where senior members of an organization are expected to communicate respectfully with everyone, even in the most difficult and stressful situations,” he said in the affidavit. “They are held accountable when they fail to reflect that respect in their communication style. … I felt that was something he may need to work on before taking on a senior academic-leadership role.”
In an interview, Welsh told The Chronicle that none of Bright’s “allegations of racial discrimination have been substantiated” in numerous reviews and complaints. After reviewing the University Grievance Committee’s final report and reviewing the case’s documentation, the provost at the time concluded that Bright’s grievances “lacked merit.” However, the “overall reaction” of the subcommittee that looked at Bright’s case found that “his claim of discrimination seemed justified,” according to its draft report. Bright has also won pay-equity increases, according to internal reviews in Bright’s lawsuit.
Despite the provost’s conclusion that Bright’s grievances were not substantiated, the provost still removed Welsh as his supervisor. (Before being removed, a university spokesperson said Welsh voluntarily removed himself as Bright’s supervisor amid the investigation, per standard university practices, and eventually resumed his supervisor role over Bright.) “I don’t trust Welsh,” says Bright, “and I don’t say that lightly about people.”
In a lawsuit filed this year, Snider, an assistant professor in the department of international affairs, complains about gender discrimination in the tenure process, saying the tenure committee did not factor in three of her medical extensions, including one for Covid and two others for pregnancy-related complications. As a result, she was judged on a seven-year instead of a five-year timeline, against university policy, according to her lawsuit.
Snider says Welsh slow-walked the review process surrounding her complaints and told her that her tenure case would be frozen, after it was belatedly reported to the Title IX office. But her case was never paused, and her tenure application was ultimately denied. According to documents in her lawsuit, Welsh wrote an email to Snider apologizing for giving her “bad information” about the Title IX process pausing her tenure case, adding that he “was certainly not trying to mislead” her.
“Given my own situation and experience dealing with him [Welsh] when he was the head of the Bush School, and suppressed, tried to cover up, tried to find a way to make my case go away,” Snider says, “why would I feel confident that he would do anything different in this new capacity as interim president?”
To The Chronicle, Welsh denied slow-walking Snider’s case, noting he was the first one to report her concerns about discrimination to the Title IX office. “As soon as she said ‘discrimination,’ we had to put it into that lane,” Welsh says. “At that point, it is between the Title IX team and Dr. Snider.”
Welsh affirmed that Bright and Snider had every right to pursue their complaints. He also urged The Chronicle to speak with his colleagues in the Bush School, whom he believes would support the notion that he’s not a part of the institution’s cultural or leadership problems.
“If you do a little bit of homework with people who have been there and know me well and have watched me for seven years,” he says, “I think you get a different story.”
Grunlan, the professor of mechanical engineering, is wary as long as people who touched McElroy’s or Alonzo’s cases remain in their administrative roles, saying the university should get rid of anyone within “one degree of separation” of the incidents.
The only way to rebuild trust is through steady, persistent communication, and showing people that you are trustworthy.
Some faculty members, like Rajesh C. Miranda, a professor of neuroscience who has worked at Texas A&M for three decades, do not think the university can move on until every stone has been overturned. In his view (which he says represents his own opinion and not those of the university), it’s a necessary pain to gain back what A&M has lost.
“If you’ve got a cancer under your skin, you’ve got to excise all of it,” he says. “Otherwise, it is likely to come back.”
More broadly, the summer’s events have led many faculty members to question the institution’s commitment to “Aggie values”: respect, excellence, leadership, loyalty, integrity, and selfless service. Tracy Hammond, the speaker of the Faculty Senate, cited the importance of these values in an August speech, not long after the peak of the campus’s turmoil, that she made to welcome new faculty members. Students, she told those in attendance, “truly embody these core values.”
Hammond also spoke to the packed ballroom about the importance of another value: shared governance — or functional shared governance, to be exact. The first thing that such governance requires, she said, is that “the faculty speak their concerns to the administration truthfully without fear.” For so long, she said, faculty members felt they had to stay silent. “They have to feel safe to disagree,” she told The Chronicle, “and I don’t feel that that has been the case.”
Still, despite the uphill battle, a sense of optimism about the campus’s future is in the air. Hammond says she’s felt that energy grow in recent weeks. It’s the sort of momentum that will have to build slowly, from frank discussions and candid dialogue about the institution’s challenges. “I’ve been very much trying to model that by myself,” Hammond says. “Even just bringing this out in the open is a little bit potentially scary for me to say, too.”
That’s why Hammond, however gently, tried to get to the heart of the matter at the end of her new-faculty orientation speech, knowing she had to acknowledge that those who had just arrived at the institution may have been worried by what they’d seen in the news over the summer.
“We are in a tender and rough spot right now,” she told the group of new and familiar faces, “but I am confident we will pull out of this stronger than ever and be more committed, as a university as a whole, to the university mission and our core values.”
To her surprise, people told Hammond that her speech expressed a lot of what they needed to hear. She didn’t beat around the bush about the campus’s problems, but she also showed a side of the university that had felt hard to see amid all the headlines.
It was a glimpse at one silver lining Hammond has seen come out of the summer incidents. She thinks speaking more freely about the issues that have dogged the institution may lead to change, and help the campus heal.
So many faculty members had long been afraid to talk. They’re not anymore.