The Knucklehead of the Day award Part Two
Our second winner today is SUNY(State Univ. of New York) Fredonia President Dennis L. Hefner. He gets the award for the following.
BUFFALO, N.Y., July 24, 2006—A professor at the State University of New York, Fredonia (SUNY Fredonia) has been denied promotion for publicly disagreeing with the university’s student conduct policies and affirmative action practices. SUNY Fredonia’s president later agreed to approve the promotion only if the professor would submit all of his public writings to prior university review. Professor Stephen Kershnar declined the offer and sought help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).In other words Kerschnar needs to kiss Hefner's ass. Hefner's partial turnabout just tells you how dumb he is. The free exchange of ideas should be the basis of education, but Hefner feels only ideas are right and worth expressing.
“Professors must be able to publicly and frankly express their opinions if the ‘marketplace of ideas’ is to survive,” stated FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “SUNY Fredonia’s bungling attempt to suppress a professor’s criticism of university policies is both reprehensible and embarrassing.”
Kershnar, an associate professor of philosophy, was nominated for promotion to full professor in January 2006, with strong support from his colleagues, department head, and top administrators, because of his outstanding professional record. An outspoken member of the Fredonia community, Kershnar writes a bi-weekly column for the local newspaper, in which he questioned Fredonia’s affirmative action practices and examined the lack of conservatives in higher education. In 2005, Kershnar publicly condemned a new rule that targets students who fail to report violations of the student conduct code. He was quoted in a Buffalo News article saying the new policy would “turn the student population into a group of snitches.”
SUNY Fredonia President Dennis L. Hefner issued a letter to the university community defending the conduct policy against “media misrepresentations.” Kershnar e-mailed the SUNY Fredonia faculty e-mail list on the following day to say that he had criticized—not misrepresented—the policy. Hefner replied to that e-mail by warning Kershnar, “You need to start acting like a responsible member of this campus community.”
On April 27, Hefner sent Kershnar a letter denying his promotion. Hefner explained that although Kershnar’s “teaching has been described as excellent,” he would not be promoted because of his “deliberate and repeated misrepresentations of campus policies and procedures…to the media,” which Hefner claimed “impugned the reputation of SUNY Fredonia.”
Kershnar told FIRE that at a later meeting, Hefner suggested that he would approve the promotion if Kershnar agreed to refrain from such statements in the future. In response, Kershnar drafted a contract to be in effect for one year, during which time he would submit his written materials to a “Prior-Consent Committee,” consisting of two other professors who would decide if his statements deliberately misrepresented the university. Hefner rejected Kershnar’s version of the contract, substituting a more stringent contract that would be in effect for an indefinite period of time, and that required Kershnar to get “unanimous consent” from a university committee for all writing regarding the university to ensure “the avoidance of any future misrepresentations” of campus practices.
Joanne Jacobs calls this a case of insufficent toadying. I call it the failure of Kerschnar to kiss Hefner's ass. Herfner may not get his ass kissed but he will get one thing for sure. SUNY Fredonia President Dennis L. Hefner is today's 2nd knucklehead winner of the day. Print this and put it on your office wall President Hefner. Hail Fredonia and the spirit of Rufus T Firefly!
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