Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Philosophy Professor on Dean Search Fiasco: Consider Catholic Nature of the University

In spite of the fact that the most visible and outspoken Marquette faculty have been supportive of now rejected lesbian Arts & Sciences Dean candidate Jodi O’Brien, not all faculty see it that way. The fact that Academic Senate failed to pass a censure motion directed at Father Wild suggests a lack of complete unanimity (although a fair number of faculty members who refused to censure Wild may have, in fact, wanted O’Brien hired).

Now, Javier A. Ibáñez-Noé, of Marquette’s Philosophy Department, speaks out about the lack of committment to the Catholic mission of the university among politically correct Marquette professors.
Dear colleagues,

I find myself obligated to express my disappointment, though not my surprise, at seeing that the resolution passed today by the University Academic Senate fails to mention, let alone to declare support for, the Catholic character and mission of Marquette University. Just as unsurprising is the fact that, in some of the exchanges relating to this resolution, the expression “Catholic Identity” appears in quotation marks and is not too subtly referred to as an outmoded thing.

I and my colleagues in the Department of Philosophy could have predicted this development. We have seen in the course of the past decade a sharp turn away from our traditional commitment to respect Catholic teaching. (I beg my readers to notice that I said “respect,” not “enforce” Catholic teaching). Indeed we at the Philosophy Department can also see, given recent domestic developments, how ironic it is that the University Academic Senate should appeal to the principle of shared governance. It is not quite two weeks ago that our departmental leadership, with the support of the Dean, effectively nullified a close departmental vote which, according to established procedure, indicated a clear preference for a candidate for the Donald J. Schuenke Chair who was both well-qualified and had a deep regard for the Catholic intellectual tradition.

I would hope that the University Academic Senate will find it in itself to show its commitment to inclusiveness by also defending the rights of the diminishing minority of faculty who, without necessarily being themselves Catholic, have an allegiance to the Catholic tradition of our university. I respectfully suggest that this could be done in at least two ways: (a) by refraining from defining “inclusiveness” in such an ideologically biased way that the definition ends up excluding central features of Catholic teaching, e.g., those relating to the nature of the family; and (b) by being prepared to apply the principle of shared governance not only when it is in the interest of the present dominating forces but also when it happens to favor the surviving Catholic-friendly minority.

Javier A. Ibáñez-Noé
Associate Professor
Department of Philosophy
Marquette University
Ibáñez-Noé sent this letter to Christine Krueger, president-elect of the Academic Senate, with a request that it be forwarded to everybody who received the original statement passed by that body -- which would be the whole faculty. Apparently, Krueger has failed to do this.

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