Friday, May 14, 2010

Arts & Science Dean Search Fiasco: Another Philosopher Supports Catholic Mission

The most visible and raucous people in the debate over the lesbian Arts & Sciences Dean candidate Jodi O’Brien have been on O’Brien’s side -- most especially Philosophy Professor Nancy Snow with her bullhorn.

But now there is some serious pushback. The following is from Bob Ashmore, long-time Marquette faculty member and now Professor Emeritus.
May 13, 2010

Dear Fr. Wild,

Nancy Snow’s calling for your resignation was the last straw that has prompted me to speak out. As a ringleader who gleefully tells the public in newspapers and on TV that “we move ahead with our protests,” after rejecting the Academic Senate’s actions as inadequate, Snow should be understood regarding the real agenda.

While rallying support of gullible faculty, administrators and students under the colors of academic freedom, diversity, and gay rights, the really serious purpose is to move MU away from core values that define its Jesuit and Catholic character. Persons who are theologically atheists and philosophically moral relativists sense growing strength.

Is it too strong to suggest that MU is reaping what it has sown? There are faculty (many of them silent) who believe that encouraging the likes of Snow has made the university vulnerable to what is now occurring. I experienced great sadness at your annual dinner for faculty last Thursday, when a platform was created for Snow, from which she smeared the administration, while you embraced her and lauded her as one of Marquette’s finest. In fact, if she and those similarly minded prevailed, MU would become unrecognizable for the values that it trumpets when recruiting students for $30,000 tuition payments.

May I remind those to whom this letter is addressed what has been my commitment to Marquette? I came in 1969, became full professor, served as director of the Graduate Program in Philosophy, served as Director of the Center for Ethics Studies, received the Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence, and obtained two institutional grants from NEH that funded successive summer institutes over six years. Against this background, I lament what has happened to my department and to the university.

I have witnessed under two successive deans of Arts and Science the acceptance and encouragement of a turn in the Philosophy Department that has radically fractured what once was a congenial faculty with a sense of mission that fit with MU’s core values. On the broader front, there has been lessened concern about hiring faculty and administrators who are committed to Catholic or even Christian identity at Marquette. Political correctness is seen as trumping those concerns.

Are they wrong who see you as hoisted on your own petard? I trust that it is not too late for a recovery of the sense of identity that Marquette advertises, while many of its hiring and promotion decisions have undercut this. “Diversity” and “academic freedom” (which I support) are being used as slogans that turn heads and mask agenda that should jolt lovers of Marquette into choices that are being challenged today.

Robert B. Ashmore
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
Although there are some voices for Marquette’s Catholic mission in the Philosophy Department, the dominant faction seems to be secular and politically correct. If philosophy (with theology) is at the core of a Jesuit education, what is the point of having having this sort of Philosophy Department?

And why would Wild try to pander to and placate Nancy Snow?

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