As a member of the Mount Community in which I am an alum, I received an email from John E. Coyne, Chairman of the Board of Trustees on Friday, January 22nd. This email invited me to the MSMU website to read a message by Mr. Coyne addressed to the Mount Community. This letter was concerning recent issues on campus over the new retention program, comments that were made, involvement of The Mountain Echo, and subsequent actions in follow up.
After reading the Chairman’s message and having no prior knowledge of this ensuing controversy on campus, this prompted me to delve deeper into the matter to understand why the Chairman’s letter had to be sent. The Mountain Echo, off campus news articles, social networking sites, etc. offered additional insight and supporting information.
Upon reading all of the background supporting articles and material, and then reviewing John Coyne’s message again, I want to thank the Board for looking into this matter and communicating their personal findings and rendered opinion to all those concerned. However, the tone, some viewpoints, and judgments that were conveyed in the response, particularly in “finding #5,” was a bit concerning.
Mr. Coyne recognizes a small group of faculty and recent alums, as the cause of some discourse towards the President (Simon Newman). This may be valid, but to presume that the group’s issues “are born out of a real resistance to positive change” is typical business / political speak.
Meaning, if you do not like these changes in the way they are constructed and will be set forth, then you are against any changes for the betterment of our cause. And, any actions taken by those who disagree will be held in contempt, particularly if they find their manners not to their liking. Is this how John Coyne and the Board really feel when presented with opposing viewpoints on their plans for the school and the education of its students?
I was further surprised to read in Mr. Coyne’s message that he took issue on how this story was developed into an article for use in The Mountain Echo. He characterized this as a “misuse” by the group. In other related articles, he also condemned the use of the school’s emails that were used for supporting information. Is this entire condemnation an effort to suppress this story from reaching beyond the borders of the campus?
As for the student survey and the retention program that was planned for incoming freshmen, I do see the merits of such a program if used correctly. The results should be used to identify areas of need for the students in order to gain a positive experience there at the Mount. I do see how such a program can be misused as well. That is the case within the business world too, where I have witnessed it on some opportunistic occasions by others.
Going forward, I offer up my best wishes to the Mount and that a positive resolution can be made from the many issues that have risen. And in the spirit of collaboration by John Coyne and the other members of the Board of Trustees, perhaps they would see fit too of instituting a survey and a personal assessment on themselves upon seeking membership to the Board. Leadership starts by setting the right tone and leading by example.
From Rick Muller
MSM Class of 1980