The embattled president of a Catholic university in Maryland has reinstated two faculty members he fired this week amid an uproar over his plan to identify freshmen most likely to fail and offer them refunds if they chose to leave.
Mount St Mary’s University President Simon Newman said in a statement on Friday afternoon that philosophy professor Thane Naberhaus and law instructor Edward Egan would be reinstated immediately.
Since the reinstatement, faculty members at the Emmitsburg university have voted overwhelmingly to ask the school’s president to resign by Monday morning.
Law instructor Edward Egan (left) and philosophy professor Thane Naberhaus (right) have been reinstated at Mount St Mary’s University just five days after being fired
They announced the 87-to-3 vote on Friday evening despite Newman’s afternoon announcement about the reinstatement.
Egan and Naberhaus were fired on Monday and the school’s provost was demoted after a Board of Trustees investigation into the student newspaper’s report that Newman had likened struggling freshman to baby rabbits that should be killed.
University president Simon Newman announced the decision on Friday despite other faculty members voting overwhelmingly for his resignation
Egan told the Frederick News-Post that he believed he was fired in retaliation for his role as student newspaper adviser. Newman told Naberhaus in a letter that he had violated a ‘duty of loyalty’ to the university, the News-Post reported.
The investigation occurred after The Mountain Echo student newspaper reported January 19 that Newman told a faculty member opposed to the so-called student-retention plan, ‘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… put a Glock to their heads’.
The proposal sparked major backlash among some faculty members who argued it could mean talented and potentially successful students were kicked out as it was impossible to tell who would be likely to make it based on just a few weeks performance.
Egan told CBS news that it wasn’t just the words Newman used that were outrageous, but his whole plan.
‘It not just the words, but it’s the plan the words described,’ Egan said. ‘Weeding out students because we think they might not do well in order to make the numbers look better? That’s not Mount St Mary’s.’
Egan said he was punished for accurate but embarrassing reporting done by students at the paper, where he is an adviser. He said he did not tell the students what to write.
Staff and students at the Emmitsburg university have been in uproar since plans were unveiled to weed out struggling freshmen by offering them refunds on their tuition if they dropped out
‘I did not, no. Anybody on campus who knows the students knows that nobody would manipulate these students,’ Egan told CBS. ‘They are independent, strong, bright people.’
Egan said a school sent him a letter that said he was ‘not welcome to visit the university’s campus’ because he violated his ‘duty of loyalty’ to the school.
Newman has apologized for his earlier comment. He said he’s committed to mending his relationship with the faculty and wants to ‘make a new beginning as a unified team’.
Mount St. Mary’s, the second-oldest Catholic university in the country, has about 2,300 students.