“You Just Have To Drown The Bunnies”: Mount St. Mary’s University Fires Academic and Newspaper Adviser After Criticism Of President

Simon-Newman-bio_webThere is a highly disturbing story out of Mount St. Mary’s University where the adviser to the school newspaper was fired after the newspaper ran a story of how university’s president, Simon Newman (left), had said that the school had to tighten its standards and get rid of less competitive students. He mocked colleagues who were resisting by reportedly saying “This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies.”

The article, by Rebecca Schisler and Ryan Golden, was published in The Mountain Echo. It also quoted Newman as telling faculty to “Put a Glock to their heads.”

The school says that Newspaper Advisor Ed Egan was fired for violating the “code of conduct and acceptable use policies.” However, it seemed clear that the newspaper coverage was the impetus for both Egan and his supporters. They point to the fact that, on the same day that Mr. Egan was fired, Thane Naberhaus, an associate professor of philosophy was dismissed after criticizing Newman’s policies. Three days earlier, David Rehm, was stripped of his role as provost after questioning policies.

The dismissal letter to Naberhaus was reportedly signed by Newman and said “As an employee of Mount St. Mary’s University, you owe a duty of loyalty to this university and to act in a manner consistent with the duty. However, your recent actions, in my opinion and that of others, have violated that duty and clearly justify your termination.”

My greatest concern is obviously with academic freedom and free speech. The timing of these actions raises a legitimate question over retaliation for academic and journalistic functions. If found to be true, it is Newman, 51, that deserves to be fired. Newman’s background is in business not academics. He has a bachelor of arts degree (with honors) and an master of arts degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University. However, he spent 30 years working as an executive in private equity, strategy consulting, and operations. He is the former managing director of the private equity fund JP Capital Partners, as well as president and CEO of Cornerstone Management Group, founded in 1997.

Source: New York Times

27 thoughts on ““You Just Have To Drown The Bunnies”: Mount St. Mary’s University Fires Academic and Newspaper Adviser After Criticism Of President”

  1. This whole article ignores the fact that public schools in areas where the poor live have historically been much worse than schools where wealthier people live, and much worse for minorities. As a result, minority and poor children have not been properly prepared for college-level courses. In addition, the prevalence of education majors has also reduced teaching quality, since many teachers are not well versed in their subject matter. A third factor is the acceptance of women into professional careers like law and medicine that they had previously been excluded from, which means that the most talented women no longer work as teachers. However, there has always been a wide variety in the level of preparation for higher education in this country, and even before 1900, the service academies had prep schools to bring students up to snuff so they could succeed at the academies. Of course, that is different from undemanding college level classes where everyone gets an “A.” Part of the mission of any university is to produce well-rounded graduates. Providing remedial education may be part of that role. However, institutions where the “gentleman’s ‘C'” has been replaced by an “A” due to grade inflation does not serve anyone except professors who are not willing to make their students perform. It should be noted that the trend has been exacerbated by adoption of practices where promotion of professors are based on student evaluations.

  2. Universities are required to craft admissions standards that will grant admission to students with the highest chance of graduating, as well as future success.

    In other words, it is a waste of a student’s seat to grant admission to someone who had a high probability of dropping out. For every student who drops out, there was a student who did not get in because that place was taken.

    On the one hand, universities need to have education help for those students who are committed and responsible, and just need some extra help. The admissions requirements are supposed to bar people who don’t belong there.

    Not everyone should get a 4 year degree (or higher). Some would be better suited for trade schools. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. This country runs on the work of blue collar workers. Also, students are required to put in their utmost effort. They cannot expect the university to behave like their parents, call them in their dorm, and remind them to write that paper.

    Among universities, as well, the value of the degree coordinates with the caliber of the education, as well as the worth of admission. If anyone with a D- out of high school could get in, how much is that degree worth to employers? Not much. How much time can a 4 year university devote to re-teaching high school to ill prepared college students? Not much. So universities have to balance supporting their students with maintaining the integrity of their education and degree programs.

    So if the university had a high dropout rate, or graduates were not competitive in the workplace, then he may have had a point about tightening admissions.

    That said, his language was clearly over the top, and he violated Free Speech by firing critics. That is antithetical to critical thinking at a university.

  3. Free markets of the private sector in which private property is possessed and disposed of entirely by its owner without interference by government.

    Mount St. Mary’s University, congratulations on your exercise of freedom.

    NO Central Planning
    NO Control of the Means of Production
    NO Social Engineering
    NO Redistribution of Wealth

    I like it.

    The Founders threw off the yoke of dictatorship wielded by the British monarchy.

    The Founders gave us freedom and free enterprise without interference by government, to “pursue happiness” as “the blessings of liberty,” facilitated by severely limited government.

    We’re all free to go open our own university and run it however we choose, right?

    Businesses succeed and fail.

    Americans must accept the outcome of freedom.

  4. Those that can teach are rare. Those that can learn are rare. Put those two together and all you get is another teacher.

  5. From jishinger above: “There are a lot of people that just don’t belong in college – not sure what you do with them, they have no skills, and jobs with no skills required are vanishing, they are going the way of robot”

    This is the greatest challenge of our time. When weak minds become idle they turn to violence/religion. Building infrastructure at home and around the world seems to be the best answer. Use the money that is currently being used to slaughter, maim, and torture people around the world. While military mercenaries may prefer killing and destruction to building useful infrastructure, they should not be paid and armed to satisfy that lust.

  6. My dad taught math for 29 years at the local community college. He went from the 60’s into the early 90’s. He used to tell me a few things. The 60’s/early 70’s really screwed up education. All of the touchy feely stuff started coming in and grade inflation started. The unions also came about during that time and were optional, he was later forced to join it. As part of the hiring comity, he got to see the shift from teachers knowing the subject to a system that was more worried about teachers having an education in teaching. He was against tenure. He always said that kids that took calculus in high school and tried to skip right to calc II always suffered.

    Lastly, he hated having to teach a remedial math class. He said it was hard to teach since when you are teaching differential equations you expect looks of confusion from the students. But, when you are explaining 2+2=4 and you get a blank look, what do you say to a kid other than, go home?

    1. I have been out of that loop for about 20 years but I would think the numbers are about the same.

  7. For the last forty years the community college system here has been testing students as they come in the door. They are all given the same tests in math and English. Their scores dictate whether they start with remedial classes or regular classes and which remedial class. They used to have an agreement with Arizona State University to teach all their remedial courses for them. Worked great for both schools.

    Mount St. Mary’s has to drown the bunnies. It is part of academia.

  8. So they don’t tighten standards and these “bunnies” literally spend thousands in year one and perhaps year two completing what they should have done for free in high school. But hey, they are two years towards that all powerful degree to “I don’t know what I want to do”. By the time they’ve completed all requirements for graduation they are $100k-200k in debt with a degree in whatever and completely unprepared for the real world. So what do these bunnies do then? They look to elect ANY candidate that will promise to eliminate student loan debt, half of which they racked up completing ‘high school’.

    The firings were wrong but it’s about time a university declared they should not have to accept students unprepared for the historical rigors of college academics.

  9. Ash’s comments are exactly why colleges have become the worthless institutions they are. Everyone is a winner in the new world. We need to become more judgemental and discriminatory.

  10. I went to one of the nation’s premier undergraduate engineering schools. On some lists, it is number one.

    On the first day there, I recall the President of the College, lining us up.

    He said, look to your left, now look to your right.
    Then he said, look past that guy on your left, and look past that guy on your right
    Then he said, look past that guy on your left you just looked past, and look past that guy on your right you just looked past,

    Then he said, one of those men or women will not be present at graduation. They will have transferred to other schools, but if you ever find yourself in difficulty, my office door is always open. We know you can succeed and we want you to succeed. You are part of our family.

    Then some NROTC marine dude from the state college accidentally blew his head off while discharging his weapon telling us some justice porn about colleges being like ‘nam.


  11. > Admission to college is not a guarantee of a degree. It’s a proving ground

    Thanks Colonel Jessup for ordering the Code Red. Sadly, it was a bunch of 17 year old freshmen.

  12. I distinctly remember my orientation as a brand new NROTC Midshipman at Oregon State. CDR Bacon said “Look to your right and to your left. Only one of you will make it to graduation.”

    He was correct. Only 25 of the entering 75 made it. Most in the group were full-ride scholarships. Neither one of my seat mates were there at commissioning. I barely made it through. It’s more than just academics.

    Admission to college is not a guarantee of a degree. It’s a proving ground. It’s a winnowing. The president’s statement is right on. The firings were wrong, but the message was on point re. life.

    Failure is one of the best teachers…although getting dropped by college often isn’t a failure if it gets someone to really take an inventory. It may be the best educational experience for the bunny.

    An aside, the all star jock who enters SEAL training has the highest likelihood to dropout …often doesn’t know what’s it’s like to fail or have to bury past accomplishments…all are lower than whale s – – t on the ocean floor.

  13. Surely a university is NO place for the first amendment or any other amendment for that matter. We are ALL such delicate ‘bottom of the food chain’ bunnies that we need to be always and forever protected from the words AND the sticks and stones that will always hurt us. Pass the tissues.

  14. Sounds like the university president was actually Donald “you’re fired” Trump in disguise. I wonder how the Republican presidential candidates other than The Donald would have handled this if they had been president of the university. Hmmmmmm.

    Cruz would have fired him and claimed that the firing was done in God’s name so that Cruz could become president of the United States.

    Christie would have prevented him from getting to work by jamming the closest bridge with too much traffic and then fired him for being late for work.

    Fiorina would have fired him out of habit from her days at HP.

    Rubio would have fired him because Obama knows exactly what he is doing.

    Jeb! would not have fired him because Jeb! would have wanted to be a better president than his brother was, even though Jeb!’s presidency was only at the university.

    Carson would not have fired him until Carson located the grain stored in the Egyptian pyramids.

    I’m not sure what Kasich would have done, but it would have appeared to be reasonable in comparison to what any of the other Republican candidates would have done.

  15. I think that he may have watched the kitchen scene, with the boiling bunny on the stove, from the film, Fatal Attraction, one too many times. Did he also run up and down the halls, screaming, I WILL NOT BE IGNORED? Just wondering.

  16. When high school student are accepted into college and have to take high school math and English just to meet basic college standards what good is that?

    They are paying for courses that won’t count towards graduating, paying full price for what they missed in high school meanwhile, getting deeper in debt.

    I wouldn’t say drawn the bunnies, but there are a lot of people that just don’t belong in college – not sure what you do with them, they have no skills, and jobs with no skills required are vanishing, they are going the way of robot.

    just pay these people off – 40 acres and mule – learn to farm.

  17. Honestly, while I understand and appreciate the freedom of speech and academic freedom concerns, my biggest issue is the unethical behavior of the President with respect to the incoming freshman.

    It is way beyond shocking that he wants to toss out of school, solely for the purpose of dressing up the school’s statistics, 20 – 25 first year students who made an enormous life altering decision to attend Mount St. Mary.

    Instead of trying to find ways to help these students, he wants to toss them out, wounding them severely.

    I cannot begin to express my contempt for this person and well, what I really want to happen to him is not fit for publishing.

    I will say I hope to read of him homeless, penniless, in harsh weather and begging for food.

    Any board of trustees that keeps him on as president is not worth spit. And all future applicants to Mount St Mary’s should be warned of his despicable behaviors in this regard.

    I have a daughter about to go off to University, and friends whose young adult teens will go off soon. For each of these teens and their families, the work to attend college was enormous, the financial difficulties will be a challenge for them now and in the future, and I’ve seen their hard work in studying and in making the grades, and in all the internships and volunteerism.

    Absolutely disgusting to read of this President referring to culling these students as drowning bunnies.

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