New allegations are surfacing about Simon Newman, the president of Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland. And these allegations could seriously undercut Newman's support, given that he is charged with seeking to de-emphasize the Roman Catholic heritage of the university.
The allegations were first reported by the Catholic News Agency, and Inside Higher Ed has confirmed several of them.
Specifically, a former administrator told Inside Higher Ed (as others told the Catholic News Agency) that he had heard the president ask, "Why are there so many crucifixes?" on campus -- a question whose answer is that the university is among the oldest Catholic colleges in the country and one that has been seen as closely tied to church teachings. The university is also known for its seminary.
A current faculty member reported several discussions in which Newman said that "Catholic doesn't sell" and that the institution needs to focus less on its history. Also, multiple people currently at the university have reported hearing the president say "liberal arts doesn't sell" -- a controversial argument at an institution that has until now been proud of its liberal arts traditions.
The university's current website features numerous references to its Catholic history and identity. But a new landing page for prospective students not only doesn't have much on Catholic identity, but also focuses on issues other than the liberal arts.
Also spreading today is an article in The Frederick News-Post about seven administrators who were fired in the months before the current controversy set off by the president's comparison of struggling students to bunnies that should be drowned.
The university did not respond to email or phone calls from Inside Higher Ed, but this article will be updated if the university provides a statement.
For those just catching up on the controversy, here is an article about the initial report on the now infamous bunnies metaphor, an article on the firing of two faculty members and another on growing national outrage.