aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

A tale of two presidencies

Gallaudet University has successfully unseated its President-designate, Jane Fernandes. This is twice in a row for the deaf institution. 18 years ago, when the Presidency last came open, a non-deaf candidate was hired, and the campus erupted. "Deaf President Now," they proclaimed, and eventually that candidate was brushed aside, to be replaced by the deaf faculty member I. Jordan King.

Well, that was then, and this is now. Students and faculty erupted in protest when the Board of Trustees hired Dr. Fernandes. Deafness was not an issue for her, since she is deaf from birth; however, they claim her work as provost was weak, and besides, President King hand-picked her for the job. The protests shut down the university, and the Board of Trustees unceremoniously dumped her a few days ago, before she could officially begin her administration.

Meanwhile, the President of Asbury Theological Seminary (my alma mater), Jeff Greenway, resigned recently after a two-month standoff with that institution's Board of Trustees. Nobody's saying right out what it was all about, but from what I can piece together, it involved the issue of how job evaluation was done. Basically, the Prez refused to be evaluated, at least in the manner designed by the Board. He had served only two years in the post.

Now, job evaluation is just part of life. I can't imagine what Dr. Greenway objected to. But object he did, and the Board placed him on leave with pay while everybody tried to find a face-saving way to retrieve the situation. While this was all going on, the students and faculty of ATS also (mildly) protested to the Board -- though in this case, in favor of the President. But the Board remained firm that everybody's got to be evaluated, and Jeff (as he prefers to be called) finally resigned.

My sources tell me that Jeff Greenway is a control freak and was unsuited to the position to begin with. Whether that is true or not, it is likely to be the informal evaluation hung on him in the face of his refusal to submit to a formal evaluation, just like "ineffective and the beneficiary of favoritism" will remain the informal evaluation of Jane Fernandes. Probably unfair to both candidates, but unavoidable.

But enough of Presidents. And enough of protesting students and faculties. What are we to make of the Boards of Trustees of Gallaudet and ATS, respectively? My gut reaction is to affirm the Asbury Board of Trustees. Whether I would agree with their decision if I knew all they know is irrelevant; it's their job to know stuff I can never know and make decisions based upon it. Seems to me they acted reasonably and consistently. If Jeff Greenway can't live with that, they are better off without him. The furor will pass, and the institution will be better served.

But it is also my gut reaction to slight the Gallaudet Board of Trustees. Assuming that they believed Jane Fernandes to be qualified, they should have backed her to the hilt, and damn the consequences. To cave in to pressure is to slight a person they had previously thought capable of the highest honor, without even letting her try to live up to the demands of the Presidency. AND, caving in forfeits their own position of trust, since they are so willing to bow to the opinions of those who cannot know what they know. So what good are they?

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