Thursday, May 06, 2010

Marquette Dean Search Fiasco: Offer to Lesbian Candidate Rescinded

It’s been obvious for quite a while that something was not going well with the search for a new Dean for the Arts & Sciences College.

Now we know why.

We didn’t consider any of the candidates very well qualified, but the least well-qualified, in our view, was Jodi O’Brien, whose publications were in mediocre outlets, and concerned race, gender and sexual orientation.

Nonetheless, she was the first choice of the Search Committee, which apparently wanted to strike a blow for “diversity.”

(Diversity, at Marquette, doesn’t seem to be about race any more, but about homosexuality.)

An offer was extended to her, and she asked for an exceptionally long time to consider it. As of last Friday, the assumption among Marquette administrators was that she would take it.

The fact that she is a lesbian was not seen as a problem.

Then, sometime between late Friday and late in the day Tuesday, Father Wild intervened and rescinded the offer. What caused the decision was two articles of hers, published in the 1990s, that appeared to advocate gay marriage. Wild expressed the view that she would be too occupied in defending herself against charges that she wasn’t an appropriate dean in a Catholic university to be effective as a dean.

A key factor was the intervention of individuals outside the university. One is identified as a “prelate” (who is understood to have had a relatively minor role), and other individuals (or an individual) who had a more important role.

By sometime this past Tuesday, the offer was rescinded, and on Wednesday meetings with various Marquette administrators informed them of the decision.

This won’t be the end of the issue. We have an e-mail (rather widely circulated) from a leftist, lesbian professor in the Philosophy Department protesting the decision. It was sent earlier this afternoon.
Good morning, everyone. As many of you know, I’ve been involved with discussions with Fr. Wild and Dr. Pauly over the last few days regarding the possible withdrawal of the offer to Jodi O’Brien. Dr. Pauly is clearly in favor of Dr. O’Brien. Fr. Wild believes he must withdraw the contract. Apparently, much of the issue centers on concerns that she will not be able to represent the Church’s position, and will need to spend an inordinate amount of time defending herself from detractors, thereby compromising her ability to perform her duties as Dean. Much of the controversy centers on publications she wrote in the late 1990’s. I’ve read both of these (available online) and find them unobjectionable pieces of sociological scholarship that contain vignettes of lesbian sex, that are then analyzed for the purpose of sociological study. Evidently the forthright sexual nature of some passages in these articles has led some (obviously uninformed) people to conclude that Dr. O’Brien is somehow against the Church, or cannot represent the Church’s position. To me, this is ludicrous. I suspect that some of the detractors are donors, and that Fr. Wild fears losing their support.

The time has come for the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences, who were not brought in at this latter stage of the process, to make our voices heard. I’m trying to organize a meeting between faculty and Fr. Wild. He has indicated a willingness to do this. The Arts and Sciences chairs are also trying to schedule a meeting with him. Needless to say, if the offer is withdrawn, the College and the University will be hurt in long-term, deep, and pervasive ways. We need to make the many issues at stake here clear to Fr. Wild in a very forceful way. Our central message must be: We will not stand for the withdrawal of this contract. Dr. O’Brien must come on board as Dean.

At this point, I would ask for your support in the following ways:

1. Forward this e-mail to anyone who supports Dr. O’Brien and is willing to take a stand on this.

2. Attend any meeting with Fr. Wild that is scheduled and publicized. If you can’t attend, send e-mails or other messages to Fr. Wild directly.

3. If a meeting with Fr. Wild cannot be scheduled, be prepared to e-mail Fr. Wild, Dr. Pauly, and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

4. At the meeting with Fr. Wild and in your e-mails to him and to others, do not be shy. Be clear and forceful. He needs to hear and heed the message of the majority of A & S faculty and administrators on this issue.

5. This is a teaching moment. Fr. Wild needs to be educated about what Dr. O’Brien’s scholarship means, and how to explain it to outsiders. Make it clear that we are not against him. We are here to support him in making the morally and prudentially right decision. We will help him do this; we will see this through with him. Take ownership of our college. Join with Fr. Wild to move this issue forward in the right way.
At this point the e-mail gets really interesting, since Snow makes it clear that she is going to use the Pere Marquette faculty dinner tonight as a political platform.
6. I will be emceeing the Pere Marquette dinner tonight. I heard that Krista suggested wearing pink -- great idea. I will be color-coded in a lavender mock turtleneck (lavender is for lesbians) and a pink pashmina shawl. I will point this out, and explain what these colors mean. I will explain that the pink in the house does not support breast cancer, but our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

7. At one point in my remarks I will refer to the great women candidates we currently have. I would appreciate a hearty round of applause in support.

8. I plan to conclude the evening by reading Marquette’s statement on dignity and diversity and asking all who support it to stand up and take a stand for Marquette.

Finally, I would like to thank you, my trusted and valued colleagues, for your support in what has been a truly difficult time for me. When John Pauly and Fr. Wild told me about the decision to withdraw the contract, I was cut to the bone. With your help, I have hope that we can prevent this moral and prudential travesty from occurring. Thank you for your support in this. Let’s take ownership of our College!

Best,

Nancy

Nancy E. Snow
Professor of Philosophy
Marquette University
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-1881
Snow, one might remember, was the professor who, in a class discussion of “racial profiling” tried to shut up a student who told the class about the issue from a police perspective. She then forced him to “apologize” to the class.

We’ll have more on this later. We won’t be at the Pere Marquette dinner tonight, having plans to dine with our wife.

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