Latest on Mount St. Mary's: Accreditation, Parents

February 11, 2016

The latest on the controversy at Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland, where many are outraged by the firing of two faculty members without faculty reviews -- dismissals widely viewed as an attempt to squelch dissent.

  • Inside Higher Ed asked the university's accreditor if it plans to examine what is going on and received a reply that it does. Elizabeth H. Sibolski, president of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, said via email, “I did want to assure you that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is well aware of developments that have been reported in national, state and higher education press. We take our accreditation responsibilities seriously and will be addressing the situation through our normal and usual processes.” Asked if this meant looking into the situation before the next review of Mount St. Mary's, she said, “This week’s press has been remarkable -- and the situation has developed over just the past few days. We are concerned and we will act with appropriate care for the integrity of the accreditation process.”
  • Simon Newman, president of Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland, wrote to parents of students Wednesday to tell them that he disagreed with press accounts of a growing national controversy over his dismissal of two faculty members. In his email, Newman said, “I want to briefly address my decision to dismiss two faculty members who violated a number of our university policies and our code of ethics. We, as an institution, have received quite a bit of press recently and have chosen not to respond more forcefully with information about the specifics of their conduct which we have available to us. In keeping with our values, we will take the high road. But it is critical that you know that we would never undertake actions like that unless the conduct in question warranted it. You may see other versions of events, but we have chosen to restore our focus on educating your students rather than explaining the damaging actions of a few individuals. We need to move forward with hope and faith rather than fall prey to fear and disparity during this time of transition.” Many faculty members say that their dismissed colleagues lost their jobs for disagreeing with the president, and they note the absence of any faculty review of the firings.
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