Archive | May, 2010

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UPDATE: Maguire calls for Wild’s immediate resignation

Posted on 08 May 2010 by Katelyn Ferral

DSC_0318In an open letter to Father Wild and Provost Pauly today, Marquette Theology Professor Dr. Dan Maguire called on Marquette’s president to “…shoulder all the blame and make your already given notice of resignation effective immediately.” Maguire said Wild’s successor should then re-invite Dr. Jodi O’Brien to be Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Maguire said if O’Brien were to re-accept, she would “be the most warmly received dean in the history of this great university.”

In the letter, Maguire said the university’s decision to take back the offer to O’Brien was “the worst decision made at Marquette in decades” and warned that the controversy could jeopardize future College Arts and Sciences dean searches.

“…Future candidates could feel compromised for stepping in when a previous candidate was discriminated against and embarrassed,” Maguire said.  “It would seem as if they saw the treatment of Dr. O’Brien as a matter of no moment.”

Maguire’s letter comes after a student protest on Thursday drew national media attention to the decision to rescind O’Brien’s offer. The university said in a statement Thursday that the decision to take back the offer was not about O’Brien’s sexuality, which Wild affirmed during his comments at the Pere Marquette faculty dinner that night.

“I want to say it strongly, clearly and directly, what this decision is not about: it is not about sexual identity, that is important to say,” Wild said. “If we were approaching matters this way it’s not only illegal, it’s against our Catholic faith.”

According to the letter, Maguire said Wild based his decision “on an interpretation of what was or what was not compatible with Catholic teaching,” and charged Wild with failing to consult faculty experts on Catholic moral teaching.

“The Theology Department is one of the major theologates in North America, just a few yards away from your offices,” Maguire said. “You ignored them as you also ignored teachers of ethics in the Philosophy department and professors in Sociology, Dr. O’Brien’s field.”

Maguire said rescinding O’Brien’s offer will have long-term implications for Marquette, and in the letter that “much of the damage” Wild has caused, “is beyond repair.” However, he said, “…confession of sins and reparation are central to Catholic spirituality.”

The debate over the decision has raised questions of the level of academic freedom on camps, and Maguire said Saturday that limiting academic freedom would have a “chilling effect on the whole university.”

“If only conservative views—or only liberal views—on debatable matters are deemed legitimate, we cease being a university where, as Cardinal Newman said, many minds may compete freely together.”

The entire letter can be read below:

May 8, 2010

To: Robert Wild, S.J., President, Marquette University

John Pauly, Provost, Marquette University

When I came to Marquette 40 years ago I was told Marquette supported academic freedom.  I believe that and acted on that assurance and was tenured and promoted to the highest rank.  That is the Marquette I know.  That is the Marquette I respect, and that is the Marquette I have just seen demeaned and betrayed.

The decision by a handful of administrators  to break the oral contract with Dr. O’Brien  a decision that broke all the canons of collegiality, was the worst decision made at Marquette in decades.  In one act you managed to insult Dr. O’Brien, the Marquette faculty and student body, and the Jesuit Seattle University.  You based your decision on an interpretation of what was or what was not compatible with Catholic teaching.  However, you did not consult the faculty experts on Catholic moral teaching on this campus.  The Theology Department is one of the major theologates in North America, just a few yards away from your offices. You ignored them as you also ignored teachers of ethics in the Philosophy department and professors in Sociology, Dr. O’Brien’s field..

Much of the damage you caused is beyond repair and will hover over this university for years….. but not all of it. Confession of sins and reparation are central to Catholic spirituality.

A Lesson from History

A similar breach of contract occurred in 1999 when Fr. Charles Curran was invited to give the annual Pere Marquette Lecture.  When the then chair of the Theology Department learned that the invitation had been made and accepted, he contacted Dr. Curran and withdrew the invitation because of Fr. Curran’s liberal views.  The Theology Department, led by Michael Fahey, S.J., protested vigorously and Fr. Curran was re-invited.  He was gracious enough to accept.

Solution

As to the disastrous disinvitation of Dr. O’Brien: all blame may not reside with the president of Marquette, but the “buck stops” on your desk, Fr. Wild..  You should shoulder all the blame and make your already given notice of resignation effective immediately.  Your pro tem successor should then re-invite Dr. Jodi O’Brien to be Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

If she accepts, and it would be a supreme act of generosity for her to do so,  I can guarantee this: Dr. Jodi O’Brien will be the most warmly received dean in the history of this great university.

Professor Daniel C. Maguire

Theology Department

[email protected]

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BREAKING: Arts&Sciences lesbian dean candidate offer rescinded

Posted on 06 May 2010 by Katelyn Ferral

Nearly 100 students marched on the Alumni Memorial Union Thursday to protest a decision by Father Wild to rescind an offer of deanship for the College of Arts and Sciences to  Jodi O’Brien who is currently a sociology professor at Seattle University. After a two-year vetting process the Arts and Sciences search committee extended an offer to O’Brien, but took it back earlier this week after what protestors said was “pressure” from  donors and Board of Trustee members.

O’Brien was the top choice for the Arts and Sciences selection committee, who last year had to begin their search again after they did not receive enough qualified applicants. Marquette confirmed the decision to take back O’Brien’s offer through a university statement Thursday afternoon.  ”This personnel decision was not about sexual orientation,” according to the statement. The university admits to “certain oversights in the search process,” and also expressed regret at the initial offer  to O’Brien. ” As a result of this search, the university will revise some aspects of the search process,” according to the statement.

Students expressed their outrage at the decision Thursday when a group of students marched down Wisconsin Avenue, then brought the protest into the rotunda in the AMU. Protest organizer and doctoral candidate in the philosophy department, Margaret Steele  addressed the crowd and said “we are here, we are committed to standing up for dignity of all persons in the community.”

After moving inside the union, protesters began shouting “shame on you,” and chanting, “we are here for education, not for your discrimination.” Student signs read “MU cannot serve both God and money,” “Academic freedom is for sale,”   “Since when is discrimination a Catholic value?” and “Fr. Wild is this your legacy?”

Students  started to dance and jump when Philosophy Professor Dr. Nancy Snow,  addressed the crowd. She read some prepared remarks and talked about her history with Marquette as a proud alumnus. Snow attended Marquette for undergraduate and graduate study and said she has had “the honor of working here.” She announced that O’Brien will “not be coming as dean,” but emphasized that Father Wild is “a good man.”

Snow circulated an e-mail Thursday afternoon encouraging students to express their disappointment with the decision, and was recieved warmly by students when she addressed her own sexuality.  ”I am a proud out lesbian,” she said.  Snow said she was recently promoted to full professor in the philosophy department and joked, “I hope that offer is not rescinded.” She then read  Marquette’s statement on diversity, “Marquette seeks to become a diverse community dedicated to the promotion of justice.” She went on to say each member of the MU community is taught to celebrate differences, “this call to action is integral to the tradition we share.”

Snow went on to say O’Brien’s writings are  ”unobjectionable pieces of sociological scholarship that contain vignettes of lesbian sex, that are then analyzed for the purpose of sociological study.” She said in an e-mail that she suspects detractors of O’Brien’s work to be  ”donors, and that Fr. Wild fears losing their support.”

Addition excerpts from Snow’s e-mail include:

DSC_0313“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.”

In an e-mail from the university sent out to Arts and Sciences faculty, admitted to offering the position to O’Brien prematurely.

“Some of the concerns identified in the process should have had more careful scrutiny. After examining the cumulative published records of the candidates, particularly as they relate to Catholic mission and identity, subsequent discussion raised issues that had not been fully addressed earlier. We did make an offer to one of the two finalists; in retrospect that was done prematurely…This decision was not based on any candidate’s personal background nor does the decision in any way challenge a faculty member’s freedom to write in his or her area of scholarly expertise.”

The e-mail affirmed that Jeanne Hossenlopp will remain the interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, until Provost John Pauly names her successor.

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