Thursday, May 13, 2010

Politically Correct Faculty Mobilize to Support Lesbian Arts & Sciences Dean Candidate

A series of e-mails that circulated among the more liberal and politically correct members of the faculty.

First, Nancy Snow urging a variety of actions to support lesbian Arts & Science Dean candidate Jodi O’Brien, who was chosen and then told that she could not be dean.
Dear Colleagues:

I’m appalled, but not surprised, that the Archdiocese and other outside influences were involved in this decision. I will tell you that Fr. Wild told me in no uncertain terms during our conversation on Tuesday, May 4, that Marquette has autonomy from the Archdiocese and that the decision to rescind the offer was his. Yet, the Archdiocese had considerable and in my view, inappropriate, influence. Fr. Wild has not yet told the truth about this. The admission came from the Archdiocese. The academic autonomy and integrity of our University have been compromised.

Here is the link to the photos from yesterday’s “listening” session. Please share the link to see the level of activity this controversy has generated. Marquette has never seen anything like this.

Next steps:

1. Faculty and student groups will be continuing protests during senior week and at commencement. Please join these if you can. We must stand up and stand together.

2. Concerned colleagues from Seattle join our protest. Among other efforts currently underway there, they are now exerting pressure on their Jesuit president to make a statement.

3. I attach a joint statement to be signed by concerned faculty of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences at Marquette and Seattle Universities. I ask supportive department chairs of the MU College of Arts and Sciences -- James South, Kristy Nielson, Krista Ratcliffe, and Jim Marten -- to make copies of this letter available in your department offices for faculty to sign, and to publicize this letter in your departments. I ask these chairs to intervene with other Arts and Sciences chairs to request their cooperation in gathering signatures. Similar actions will be taken at Seattle University. Let us get as many signatures as possible. We will purchase full page ads to have the letter published in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Seattle Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, and, if possible, Chicago Tribune and New York Times. Please sign and urge your colleagues to sign as soon as possible. Let’s aim to have all signatures in by Tuesday of next week.

4. Colleagues here are trying to schedule a date and time for an open forum on this issue. Please stay tuned as plans solidify.

We must take back our College and our University. I fully support re-extending the offer to Dr. O’Brien, with an apology.



Nancy E. Snow
Professor of Philosophy
“Be the change you seek in your world.” - Gandhi
The attached letter is as follows:
Statement from Concerned Members of Marquette University

Regarding the Rescinded Offer of Deanship to Dr. Jodi O’Brien (joined by concerned colleagues from Seattle University):

- We condemn the decision to rescind the offer made to Dr. Jodi O’Brien to serve as Dean of the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences.

- We condemn the involvement of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and other outside influences in this decision. The academic autonomy and integrity of Marquette University was compromised in this decision-making process.

- We believe this action has caused significant harm to the reputation of Marquette University. It threatens our credibility and integrity as a university. It has caused suffering among students, alumni, staff, and faculty, and it will cost Marquette considerably in terms of community relationships, research, and recruiting and retaining students and faculty.

- We reject the public rationale offered for this action: examples of Dr. O’Brien’s scholarship disqualify her from being able to represent Marquette University in its Catholic mission and identity. We reject the idea that scholarship published in peer-reviewed journals or presented at universities or academic conferences can disqualify a faculty member from leadership at a Jesuit University.

- We strongly believe the decision puts academic freedom at risk at Marquette University. We reject an intellectual “litmus test” for our faculty, staff, and leaders in the administration. Indeed we find the very idea of such a “litmus test” to be contrary to the tradition of excellence, faith, service, and leadership advanced by American Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

- We believe that the rejection of Dr. O’Brien because of her scholarship examining the social institution of marriage and the fluidity of gender roles and sexuality exposes a culture of unease and suppression at Marquette University, a culture which frowns upon the frank intellectual discussion of human - and especially female - sexuality. This is particularly chilling and ironic as we celebrate the Centennial of Women at Marquette.

- We believe that this course of events undermines Marquette University’s faith commitment to both foster diversity and honor the human dignity of every individual regardless of culture, faith, race, gender, and sexual orientation.

- We pledge to work to restore the integrity of our university.

- We pledge to defend academic freedom for all of our faculty, and the spirit of academic freedom for all students, staff, administrators, and leadership. We will reject vigilantly the imposition of “litmus tests.”

- We pledge to confront directly the chilly climate on campus for scholarship and discussion concerning issues of gender and sexuality. We demand that these issues be allowed the broadest horizons for inquiry and debate. We cannot allow the intellectual discussion and academic investigation of human sexuality to be constrained by overly narrow understandings of Jesuit mission and Catholic identity.

- We pledge to honor Marquette University’s Statement on Human Dignity and Diversity. We must not only talk the talk of nondiscrimination and inclusiveness; our rhetoric must be matched by courageous action.

- We pledge to help our students make sense of what has transpired here. We desire for them to inherit a tradition of Excellence, Faith, Leadership, and Service that is inclusive, fosters moral courage, and supports the free and open inquiry necessary to attain the highest standards of scholarship.

- We hope to engage in conversations with all levels of university administration to ensure more transparent process for hiring in the future and to develop a more open environment generally.

- We note with chagrin that while the administration encouraged the university community to discuss the name change of our basketball team or a full year, less than two weeks after this egregious action, which strikes at the heart of our functioning as a university, we were told it is time for “healing” and “moving on.” We will not be silent until the integrity of our university is restored.

- We believe that the appropriate response to the current situation is for the offer of the Deanship of the College of Arts and Sciences to be extended again immediately to Dr. O’Brien with an apology. If this is not possible under Father Wild’s administration, Father Wild should immediately resign and his successor should offer Dr. O’Brien the Deanship.
This provoked a response from Psychology professor Ed St. Aubin.

St. Aubin: Do Something at Graduation

From: de St. Aubin, Ed
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 9:19 AM


It may seem to some that offering Dr. O’Brien the position now is like inviting her to step in a hornet’s nest. I am convinced of quite the opposite. Imagine the welcome she would receive. Dean of A&S is a difficult job. I believe that if Dr. O’Brien were to come, there would be strong support on campus and it would create an alumni coalition of support that has gone relatively untapped to date. I am not sure that the current mode in the very large Advancement office is ideal for reaching out to these individuals/groups, but that is a different topic.

Further, the act of re-offering the position to Dr. O’Brien provides a tangible rallying point. It becomes our charge as we try to maintain energy around this issue even as campus begins to drain for the summer. Also, we have one more major public event that allows for a strong statement – graduation. This is attended by faculty, students, parents, and many alumni. We need a strategy there.

Also, what about key administrators? My take is that these folks have been very quiet.

Am I correct? I’m talking about Deans, interim Deans, Chris Miller, etc… The May 10 letter from Jeanne Hossenlopp and Stephanie Russell was all about healing the hurt and moving forward. I have tremendous respect for both those women but it read as patronizing to me. And is stripped us of any power to DO something real.

So, my questions are how do we get support from people in positions of power on campus? What would we need to do to have Fr. Wild re-offer Jodi O’Brien the position? and, How do we most effectively use graduation as a time/place for our position to be heard?

Finally, I have no clue who this email is heading towards. I simply hit “reply all” to the most recent message. How do we make sure that all stakeholders are part of this conversation?

All for now,

Ed de St. Aubin
Psychology Department

Snow Backs Off a Bit

Snow got some flack for the demand that Fr. Wild resign. So the following e-mail went out.
Dear Colleagues,

After circulating this, a broad consensus has emerged that we should leave off the ending - the conditional call for Wild’s resignation. Attached is the amended statement. If you chose to add your name to this list, it will ONLY BE for this version.

Please read the attached “Statement from Concerned Faculty Members of Marquette University” (joined by concerned colleagues from Seattle University).

If you wish to be a signatory to the statement, please send an email to

Please state clearly how you would like to be identified on the statement (i.e., “Dr. Nancy Snow, Professor, Department of Philosophy”).

Please forward this email to supportive colleagues and other members of your department so that they have the opportunity to sign the statement, should they wish to do so.

Thank you for standing up for the integrity of our university!

Very best,
Nancy Snow
Attached to this latter e-mail was a draft of a revised letter of protest.

It omitted the final sentence (“If this is not possible under Father Wild’s administration, Father Wild should immediately resign and his successor should offer Dr. O’Brien the Deanship”).

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