Sunday, May 09, 2010

Rescinded Offer to Lesbian Dean Candidate: More Sturm und Drang

One of the interesting things about the brouhaha over the withdrawal of an offer to Jodi O’Brien, candidate for the Dean of Arts and Sciences is the issue of whether the Selection Committee is at fault for not having properly warned Father Wild about the controversial nature of O’Brien’s writings.

Father Wild has been blaming the Committee, but at least one outspoken member of the Committee (Stephen Franzoi) has been blaming Father Wild. We just got this e-mail sent by lesbian faculty activist Nancy Snow dealing with the issue.
From: Snow, Nancy

Sent: Saturday, May 08, 2010 2:32 PM

To: Krueger, Christine; Ratcliffe, Krista; Zurcher, Amelia; South, James; Foster, Susanne; Bauer, Connie; Papanek, Paula; Grow, Jean; Gibson, Kevin W.; Tobin, Theresa; Crockett, Timothy; Trivigno, Franco; Melamed, Jodi; Marten, James; Monahan, Michael J.; Mulla, Sameena; Politano, Michael; Pasero, Anne; Gendron, Sarah; Garner, Ana; Turner, Lynn; Cordova, Sarah; Hay, Carla; Hathaway, Heather; Holstein, James; Franzoi, Stephen; de St. Aubin, Ed; Hlavka, Heather; Peressini, Anthony
Note that we have left the distribution list on the e-mail since it is pretty much a Who’s Who of politically correct liberals and leftists on the faculty.
Subject: Jodi O’Brien Next Steps

Dear Colleagues:

The past week has been very difficult for me, as I’m sure it has been for you. I send this e-mail regarding Fr. Wild’s decision to rescind the offer of the job as Arts and Sciences Dean to Dr. Jodi O’Brien. I include below, with his permission, excerpts of e-mails I received from Dr. Stephen Franzoi, a member of the Dean Search Committee. The Search Committee has now been discharged, and are free to speak as individuals. I do this to alert you to how corrupted this decision-making process has been. Dr. Franzoi will be sending an e-mail to members of the Executive Committee of the Academic Senate, and I have urged other Search Committee members to follow suit.

According to Dr. Franzoi, two candidates were forwarded by the Search Committee with their high recommendation to the Provost. Strengths as well as weaknesses were listed for each. The Search Committee included, not as a weakness in Dr. O'Brien, but as a recognition of the history and climate of Marquette, that an offer should not be made to her unless the Provost and President were willing to stand by her and her scholarship. As you know, Fr. Wild publicly berated the Search Committee for a failure of “due diligence.” I have been told by a reliable source that a public apology was requested from Fr. Wild; a private apology is all that has been received to date.

My involvement in the matter is this. On April 11, I was told by Dr. Pauly, in confidence, that an offer had been extended to Dr. O’Brien. Dr. Pauly gave me her cell phone number and asked me to contact her. I did so. Dr. O’Brien and her partner visited Milwaukee on April 15-18. I interacted with them on April 15, saw them on April 16, and spoke with Dr. O’Brien by cell phone on April 16. On April 16, she told me that she had accepted the offer to become Dean. She asked me to keep the matter confidential, and told me it would be announced in about a week. No announcement was forthcoming. I e-mailed her Dr. O’Brien on May 1 to inquire. She responded that there had been unexpected delays, but said she hoped for more positive news soon. Late on Monday, May 3, I received a request for a meeting with the Provost on Tuesday, May 4 at 9 AM. When I met with the Provost, he told me that Fr. Wild had decided to withdraw the offer. Dr. Pauly tried to explain that the reasons were to do with articles published by Dr. O’Brien. Fr. Wild apparently thought these articles showed that Dr. O’Brien would not be able to represent the Catholic identity of the University.

About half an hour later, Fr. Wild joined us and tried to explain his position. I was not then, and am not now, clear on what exactly the objectionable passages are. Same sex marriage was mentioned, as was a description of lesbian sex involving a sex toy. I consulted Dr. O’Brien’s work, which is not advocacy of a lifestyle or same sex marriage, and failed to find any connection with Catholicism.

On May 5, I spoke with Dr. Pauly and Fr. Wild by telephone. I implored Fr. Wild to meet with the Dean's Advisory Council and the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences before rescinding the offer. He met with the Search Committee. According to Dr. Franzoi, he berated them for a failure of “due diligence,” and they strongly objected to that characterization. Dr. Franzoi states that it was not clear to the Committee members whether the offer had, at the time of that meeting, been rescinded. At least two Committee members passionately appealed to Fr. Wild not to rescind the offer, due to the harmful consequences of doing so. Fr. Wild did not meet with the DAC until after the decision was made. Now “listening sessions” are to be scheduled. I find this contemptuous of the College, and offensive.

I include this, as well as the e-mail below, in an effort to throw some light on what has been a closed and corrupted decision-making process that has had a very harmful result. Already, junior faculty are frightened. Already, their students ask them if they will be fired. Already, lesbians involved in a sexuality study being conducted here have withdrawn, thereby harming our colleagues’ research.

I urge you to lobby your Academic Senate representatives for a vote of no confidence/censure on Fr. Wild at the Academic Senate meeting on Monday. A list of Academic Senate members is available at:
http://www.marquette.edu/provost/committees.shtml. I ask this not to harm Fr. Wild, though I believe he has egregiously failed us in his duties as President. I ask this so that we, as a University, can send a clear message to his successor that the way in which this decision is made will not be tolerated. The time has come to demand that faculty voices be engaged in decision-making processes. What happened in the Jodi O'Brien case is not shared governance.

Please forward this e-mail to all colleagues whom you believe will support this
initiative.

Thank you,

Nancy Snow

From Dr. Stephen Franzoi, included with his permission:

Excerpted from E-mail 1:

To All Regular Faculty Within the Psychology Department,

There is a struggle going on campus among various groups to define the social reality surrounding the events of the past few days regarding the rescinding of the offer to Jodi O’Brien. I am sending to you, unfiltered, various communications from Provost John Pauly, Search Committee Chair Rich Friman, and President Father Wild regarding perceptions of the actions of the search committee. My opinion is that Father Wild has now abandoned his initial response of accusing the committee of not properly vetting Jodi O'Brien and now the definition of the social reality blame game shifts squarely on the shoulders of either Provost Pauly and/or President Wild. As a social psychologist, these unfolding events are fascinating. As a Marquette faculty member, however, I am far beyond being despondent.

Steve

Excerpted from E-mail 2:

President Wild told us in a meeting on Wednesday that there was an article in which “sex positions” and “sex toys” are mentioned, and that it could be interpreted that this passage was autobiographical in nature. That is what he told us. From that, I found this article and found those italicized passages about two lesbians visiting a sex shop. In reading this article, I saw nothing that suggested that these passages were anything but illustrations of the article’s subject matter, namely, gender definitions. My interpretation was that this was a scholarly article discussing gender issues.

N.B. The reason for excerpts is that some people have not given permission, or have not been asked for their permission, to forward their remarks. I respect their right not to have remarks forwarded without their express permission.

Sincerely,

Nancy E. Snow
Professor of Philosophy
Marquette University

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should a school of deep rooted, religious grounding have any responsibility towards hiring an individual not in compliance with the traditions of the organization? The lesbian candidate drifts away from structured beliefs towards the institution and misrepresents what Marquette stands for. Any behavior not condoned within the specific religion or society in majority is discouraged.

5:51 PM  

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