Professors demanded that a Maryland college president step down in an 87-to-3 vote — but he won’t go

Simon Newman
Simon Newman screengrab via MSMU

Professors at Mount St. Mary’s University (MSMU) have demanded the resignation of their president after the firing of two faculty members who appear to have crossed him, The Wall Street Journal reported.

While the professors called for Simon P. Newman to step down in an 87-to-3 vote on Friday, he has declined to resign and played down the importance of the vote by saying professors voted “as a bloc.”

Newman has been the focus of negative attention since Mountain Echo, the student-run newspaper, interviewed two faculty members who said the president had referred to struggling students as “bunnies” that needed to “drown.”

The newspaper also ran an unflattering email exchange between Newman and Provost David Rehm in January, in which Newman proposed a plan to encourage struggling students to drop out early in the year.

Student also held a vote on Friday, but diverged from the sentiment of their professors. Seventy-six per cent of student respondents in an online poll voted in favour of Newman’s leadership. The vote targeted 1,573 undergraduate students, 61% of whom responded to the poll.

“We need to listen to what the students are saying,” Newman, whose background is primarily in private equity and consulting rather than education, told the Wall Street Journal. “They’re our client. They’re our consumer.”

Mount St. Mary's

Newman has received particular criticism for what might seem like an attempt to silence student reporters.

One fired faculty member, Edward Egan, advised the student newspaper that leaked the email in which Newman proposed encouraging poor performers to drop out early.

The move would improve the retention rate, a metric colleges care about because it affects their ranking on lists such as the US News & World Report.

Thane Naberhaus, a professor of philosophy with tenure, was also fired recently. His dismissal notice accused him of disloyalty, according to Insider Higher Ed.

On Friday, the school reversed course and reinstated two of the professors, Inside Higher Ed reported.

Business Insider reached out to MSMU and Simon Newman and will update this post when we hear back.

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