Letter to the Editor From President Simon P. Newman

You have probably heard something about our vision and strategic plan for the University, at a minimum its name, Mount 2.0.  Universities periodically go through this process of examining where they are and where they need to go, taking into account their strengths and weaknesses.  Our work has included a detailed review of the market for higher education and our positioning relative to other universities, as well as a rigorous internal review of our financial situation, operations, academic courses and infrastructure.  Most importantly, to be more successful we need to know what students and their families are looking for in return for their substantial investment in a college education.  I have shared much of the strategic review of the University with all constituents including the board, administration, faculty and staff.  The market research about what students and parents have been looking for in their college education has been shared appropriately with the entire community as well.

While there are literally hundreds of initiatives that will define Mount 2.0, they fall into the following major categories:  

Academic programs: including core curriculum, undergraduate academic courses, and postgraduate courses. Also included will be a center for student success/leadership, university partnerships and research partnerships, and online and continuing education programs.

 

Catholic Identity and mission

Student activities

Finance and Infrastructure

 

Growth: including a revamping of our marketing, enrollment and retention efforts

Coordinated, effective action in all of these areas will both honor and build upon the strong foundations established here over the past 208 years, while stimulating progress so that the Mount will become one of our nation’s most effective Universities at preparing students to meet tomorrow’s challenges.   The successful implementation of Mount 2.0 will require the active input and participation of all stakeholder groups at the University.

Allow me to further describe some of the key initiatives in each of these categories.

Core Curriculum

The planning and execution of this are still in process, but the intention is to rebalance the ratio of core curriculum to other academic coursework through a revised core of around 45 credits.  Many members of our faculty have been working very hard on this complex initiative and I am very pleased and proud of their herculean effort so that this goal is going to be reached.   We also plan to continuously evaluate, and, where necessary, make modifications to improve the effectiveness with which our core gives students a very well-balanced liberal education in the areas that are the most meaningful to the world they will enter into.   These areas would certainly include core humanities, in addition to theology and the groundings of Catholic intellectual tradition, science and technology, political, societal and international studies, psychology, basic business concepts and leadership concepts.

A proposed new element to our core, currently being evaluated for implementation next year, will be named “The Center for Student Success” or “Leadership Institute.”  It will feature regular meetings between students and their personal coach(es) whose role is to ensure that students get the best possible experience from their Mount education, including helping them plan their Mount experience, focus on understanding themselves, find leadership experiences, obtain jobs and internships, and connect with alumni and other mentors.  It is through this center that I believe we can help in the human formation elements of our students – the goal here being to provide a formalized Catholic- focused support infrastructure that mirrors the less formal, but highly valued mentoring work done in the past by some the Mount’s favorite priests such as Father Fives, Father Redmond and Father Mulleley.   When I talk to alumni it is amazing how many reflect on their interactions with these priests as being the events that most shaped them to be the person they are.

Academic Courses

Both our larger world, and the world of jobs and careers, are evolving at an ever-faster pace.  We need to move at the speed of life!  While our core curriculum is focused on providing a broadly applicable liberal arts foundation, we need to be continuously evaluating how well we are helping students tap in to growing career fields, particularly those that our research has shown to have both a strong interest from our students and very healthy demand for jobs after graduation.  Some such areas include decision sciences, forensic accounting, cybersecurity, PP&E (Philosophy, Politics & Economics) and STEM.  As it relates to STEM, engineering is by far the most requested major for students who were interested in, but decided not to attend Mount St. Mary’s.

There are other things we are planning in this Mount 2.0 category, including adding elements to existing courses to enhance them.  For example, for students in the theology or philosophy areas, expanding our study abroad options to include a semester at the American University of Madaba, Jordan, the largest Catholic university in the middle-east, just across the Dead Sea from Jerusalem.  This course could be followed by a 7-10 day tour of the Holy Land.  A related concept in the plan is the development of highly in-demand postgraduate courses, such as a masters in biochemistry and a certificate or possible degree in Emergency Management with the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who has a major operation in Emmitsburg.

We are also investigating the possibility of selling our great liberal arts courses overseas to other venues where there is a demand to understand the western intellectual tradition and western culture.  These courses could be delivered online or through a professor exchange with leading Universities in Asia and the Middle East especially.

Expanding our academic course options will not only attract more and more diverse students to our campus, it will also better retain them once they’re here.

Catholic Identity

Mount St. Mary’s University is, and will always be known for its robust Catholic Identity.  We will continue to embrace the tenets of our faith and the Catholic intellectual tradition.  We will continuously look for new ways to help students develop a deeper relationship with God, including working with Mount community members of other faiths, to help them achieve that same high purpose.  Nothing in our Mount 2.0 plan will diminish our Catholic Identity, which is guided by the commitment in Ex Corde Ecclesiae to “a common dedication to the truth and a common vision of the dignity of the human person.”  In particular we are committed to the pillars of Ex Corde Ecclesiae No. 13 as given to us by our Holy Father.   Please know of my personal pledge to honor these essential characteristics in our mission at Mount St. Mary’s University.

We intend to build on our excellence in teaching our Catholic Intellectual tradition, by adding the practical service experience of applying these truths in the real world to make a difference.  My commitment, inspired by the teachings of our Holy Father Pope Francis, is to create opportunities for the entire Mount community to live the Gospel values to service those less fortunate.

In a Mount 2.0 context this means faith in action, and using God’s gifts for a purpose that transcends ourselves.  We plan to foster more social outreach programs that will invite the participation of the entire Mount community.   Some such programs were suggested by groups in our first ever faculty retreat last month, and we have already received informal commitments of help for both the “Mount House” idea in Baltimore as well as various outreach efforts with the town of Emmitsburg.

Finance and Infrastructure

It’s no secret that small, liberal arts universities such as ours have long faced financial challenges, due in large part to our generally small endowments and the rapidly escalating costs of operating a university.   In addition to paying faculty and staff, buildings need to be heated, roofs need to be repaired, classrooms need to be renovated, and occasionally, wholly new facilities need to be constructed.   Universities that don’t actively confront this situation find themselves in a downward spiral of constrained investment combined with escalating tuition costs, as their primary source of revenue is tuition.   The combination of these factors make a university progressively less competitive in attracting new students.  I won’t go into deep detail here, but there are several key elements of our program that are directly addressing our need to lower our costs in multiple areas, in many ways involving making strategic investments in infrastructure to lower ongoing operating costs. We are also devising new structures that will facilitate investors and donors providing the means to finance our growth.   As you may be aware I have a professional background in finance, and while the Mount’s situation is one that warrants due attention, I see many opportunities to strengthen our finances so that Mount 2.0 has the funding it needs to become fully implemented.

University Growth

The size of our student body is currently too small to support our existing infrastructure and overhead, much less our need to grow it.  The analysis that went into our planning process suggests that a good size for us would be in the neighborhood of 3000 undergraduates.    This size student body would remain intimate and collegial, while providing the right income level to solidify our financial stability.   This growth would be fueled in large part by the advancements described earlier that will increase the number of students who are interested in the Mount, choose to enroll with us, and ultimately earn a Mount St. Mary’s degree.   This expansion would be phased in over time, probably about 10 years.

Student Activities

Last, but certainly not least is the development of a much wider, and richer range of student activities that will effectively complement the academic side of The Mount experience.   Some of the high-priorities we are already working on include: expanding the social venues on campus; University-provided transportation to Gettysburg and Frederick; an arrangement for Mount students to obtain ski passes at Ski Liberty; and more social activities such as dances and music events.   In addition, our plans call for the continued expansion of our D-1 and club sports programs, more funding and resources for student clubs, and expanded hours and menu options for on campus dining.

Well, there you have a snapshot of our vision for the future of our beloved University, and a glimpse into how we will get there.   Mount 2.0 honors and builds upon the great tradition of our school.    I invite the entire campus community to participate in bringing it about.

Editor’s Note: This letter was submitted by President Simon P. Newman

34 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor From President Simon P. Newman

  • February 17, 2016 at 9:40 am
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    #IstandwithSimon

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  • February 17, 2016 at 9:52 am
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    Thank you for sharing and clarifying your plans for Mount 2.0. I am completely, 100% on board. This plan is a comprehesive and all encompassing. I look forward to having you lead us to the vision that is Mount 2.0.

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  • February 17, 2016 at 10:18 am
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    Excellent ! Well done President Newman!

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  • February 17, 2016 at 10:40 am
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    Awesome letter. I hope that people on both sides of this issue lay down their current personality differences and just look at this broad overview. Find a few things that are agreeable and work from there.

    A note to the MSM staff on both sides of the issue…. it is not about either of YOU, it should always be about the present, and just as important, the future STUDENTS.

    Without the students who demand an MSM degree, all of you will be looking for new jobs, scarily sooner than later. No one wants that. Good luck and may Christ guide your hands, thoughts and actions. MJR

    PS I will show this letter to the campus director where I work to see if we can implement some of these ideas on a community college level.

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  • February 17, 2016 at 11:22 am
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    I 100% support this plan it is long overdue. My only request would to bring back the golf team.

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  • February 17, 2016 at 11:40 am
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    Very comprehensive letter by President Newman. I pray that he is sincere about maintaining the Catholic identity of the Mount. I would like for him to address the concerns about him moving statues or crucifixes from the school. I support his vision for the future academic plan for the school but want him to embrace the thought that this is a Holy place and denying in any way our Catholic identity in the name of “selling” the school will only lead to less blessings that we are sure is bestowed upon the school by Our Lord and Our Lady. I pray he addressed and supports making The Newman list for Catholic colleges as this was a major factor in choosing MSM and spending the higher price education of a private college. I urge President Newman to not dismiss those, whether faculty, administrative or students, who have a strong Catholic faith in the name of marketing. In fact I believe it is a tenet of the school that could be marketed. There is room for all faiths but I believe MSM is a university of a rich Catholic faith tradition where students, and the community at large go to grow their hearts as well as their minds. I pray all involved in the Mounts future will be humbled and in Gods grace move forward to bless and send forth into the world children of great knowledge and skills and most importantly of loving hearts.

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  • February 17, 2016 at 12:48 pm
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    How about, as part of the university’s commitment to higher education, you actually promote rather than undermine academic freedom? How about, as a specifically Catholic university, you live into the Catholic commitment to justice and solidarity?

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  • February 17, 2016 at 2:05 pm
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    I agree with the “Mount mom” who commented, on everything she noted. (I didn’t know the crucifixes were removed!) This plan sounds grandiose and expensive. Three of my children graduated from the Mount, and a 4th is there right now. I went to a non-Catholic college and I don’t want the Mount to mirror that. I will keep a watch on the “Newman Guide List” (The Cardinal Newman Society) and perhaps my grandchildren will be influenced by me when it is time for them to choose colleges.

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    • February 18, 2016 at 10:20 am
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      I would like to clarify that I spoke with my daughter and the crucifixes are not down, there was a remark by the President concerning them that was “heard” throughout the campus. This greatly troubles me. It troubles me that the leadership of this University has chosen such a President; foolish thinking, that which will ruin the essence of this Catholic Institution. Some speak of their donations, but if you do not attract good Catholic parents like we who pay the tuition, you will have no University left to continue on.

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  • February 17, 2016 at 2:31 pm
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    Here is are my two questions for President Newman:
    1. Why, in the interests of “retention,” were you considering using survey that featured many questions about mental health as a tool for deciding which students should be approached about considering the possibility of leaving? To use a survey in such a way is discriminatory. Even to consider using a survey in such a way is indicative of discrimination.
    2. Will you promise to make all survey results pertaining to mental health off-limits to all research projects (due to a lack of informed consent)?
    3. Have you or any other employee ever suggested using the survey’s mental health data in order to develop a screening tool for admissions? If so, will you promise to officially reprimand the person in question and prevent them from being involved in admissions/ retention decisions for at least a year?

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  • February 17, 2016 at 2:40 pm
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    If this was stated at the outset I would consider it an ambitious and forthright plan and vision for the future of The Mount, and would hope that with strong leadership it could be accomplished. Although the naming of the vision “Mount 2.0” is not what I would have chosen for an institution with a 208 year history…trendy but not befitting The Mount’s stature.

    But as I read “Mount 2.0”, all I can think is that it is a reaction to cover up deep wounds created by the initial actions of Mr. Newman as he started his tenure with statements of “Drown the bunnies…put a Glock to their heads” and “Catholic Jihadists”, as well as demonizing those who dared to challenge those visions which finally led to national disgrace for our beloved Mount.

    Is The Mount perfect? No, not when I attended many years ago, nor was it when Mr. Newman joined the community, but to disparage the very core of what makes The Mount so special has left deep wounds, and as grandiose as Mount 2.0 is I seriously question if Mr. Newman is the right person to lead The Mount toward those goals. I hope the Board of Trustees will look very seriously as they do their investigation with one thing in mind, what is best for the future of The Mount. Saving face for the Board or Mr. Newman should not even be considered, simply what will be the best course of action to overcome one of the darkest periods in The Mount’s history and what will be best for her future.

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    • February 17, 2016 at 6:02 pm
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      The Student Government did a survey and 75% or something of the students that did the survey (which I think they said was like 61% of the total student body) were actually IN FAVOR of Newman. Crazy, right? So yeah; I doubt anything is going to be done to Newman, and if anything the board is going to try and sweep it under the table and use the study anytime someone brings it up.

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      • February 18, 2016 at 11:40 am
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        Yes and keep in mind it was one question that was linked together. It stated “do you support Pres Newman AND his vision for change”. ‘Most kids do indeed support cutting out some of the Veritas and support expanding areas of learning.

        My child felt this was deceptive and therefore voted against. I don’t see how this can go forward without faculty and administration using the kids as a dividing factor. And let’s make it clear that None of the kids who currently reside at MSM made the decision because of Newmans vision. Powell was in charge and the leader we all heard as we toured and made our decision. The first time I heard Newman was at parents weekend this past fall and my gut told me that something had been lost with this new president. He spoke of nothing but getting a few select kids over to Cambridge as if making sure we knew that there are other better universities out there and we are lucky to have them let some of our kids go there. Nothing, not ONE word about the Mounts history or great tradition. And certainly not a mention of it being Cathoic. Luckily Professor Rehm spoke as well and I thought well at least we still have the professors in place. Ha lot of good that is now.

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        • March 9, 2016 at 10:32 am
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          I know this is a long time later, but I wanted to reply about something I noticed before the events that took place this month (March).

          At first I thought you might be right; the wording was such a way that it didn’t really make it a fair vote. That said though, I discovered something shortly after the survey was revealed…dorm windows, quite a few of them in fact, that said things like “I stand with Simon” and “Team Newman.” It surprised me that there was quite a large group of currently enrolled students that supported him even after everything that had been revealed.

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  • February 17, 2016 at 4:03 pm
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    My concern still lies in his attitude and complete lack of accountability for his own actions. No apology to the editors and student leaders, no acknowledgement of his role in this mess as all media is based on his own words and deeds, no justification for his actions, just another this is my vision with the under current being get on board or else. Not even an outreach to work with the 87 faculty who voted for his resignation or even an olive branch extended, just his version of the Mount. While this is not necessarily a poor direction in general, but we can certainly find a compassionate, collaborative leader who also has an expertise in finance and uses “his” generic ideas (or should I say research of other universities). The difference would be we would have someone who is able to collectively implement them and possibly stir up positive national and regional attention in the process.

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  • February 17, 2016 at 6:13 pm
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    100% on board. As long as Simon is president I will continue to write donation checks. He is the leader we need. Moving on from the past is hard, but it is a must. Go Simon, Go Mount 2.0.

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  • February 17, 2016 at 7:32 pm
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    Platitudes written with no substance, facts, or numbers submitted. What do the accounting books look like?

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  • February 17, 2016 at 8:46 pm
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    The president engaged in egregiously unethical behaviour by arranging for lies to be told to students about the intended use of the infamous survey. It is obvious that he should resign, and I am shocked that the Board has not instructed him to do so, whatever the merits of his plan.

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  • February 17, 2016 at 9:32 pm
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    President Newman cooked up a grotesquely intrusive survey instrument of unknown validity and reliability to “cull” the incoming freshman class a month after its arrival. The students were informed that this “very valuable tool…will help you discover more about yourself.” (Groan!) “There are NO WRONG ANSWERS,” they were told.

    Questions centered on whether the test takers had a learning disability, felt depressed, or suffered from the blues and whether they were distracted, hopeful about the future, or felt disliked by others.

    In reality the test was NOT intended to help students learn about themselves, and there were plenty of wrong answers. “My short term goal is to have 20-25 people leave by the 25th [of Sep.],” wrote Newman. “This one thing will boost our retention 4-5%.” Newman sought to use this subterfuge to cook the books to achieve a more favorable ranking of the school in college guides. That’s called cheating.

    I can only guess what would happen next: faculty would have had to have conversations with the low-scoring students on the dubious questionnaire in an attempt to strong-arm them into leaving a MONTH after their arrival. Most students would not have yet had a test in any of their classes.

    Some very decent folks at the university—the provost, associate provost, dean of liberal arts, and so on—naturally balked and they lost their jobs or were demoted. The courageous little Mountain Echo lost its adviser. (So much for academic and press freedom.) The odious head of the Board doubled down and backed Newman. And so on and so on.

    One wonders how it all would have played out had not the Mountain Echo exposed the scam. (Thirty years in higher education and I’ve never seen anything this nefarious.)

    “There will be some collateral damage,” Newman conceded. What he meant is that some students selected would have resisted the coercion. Others scoring slightly above them would then have been tapped. Perhaps one hundred students ultimately would have been approached to fulfill Newman’s edict. Who would have complied? First-generation students? The timid? The poor? Those suffering from low self-esteem? Students from other countries? Got me. (Any guesses as to where Pope Francis would come down on this?)

    In addition to the SCAM being immoral and unethical, it was illegal and would have resulted in lawsuits aplenty. The parents of Holly, Britney, and Bobby would have understandably been horrified when their “cuddly bunnies” with “Glocks [pointed at] their heads” arrived home a month into the semester after failing the test with no wrong answers. Mom and dad would have lawyered up and taken MSM to the cleaners.

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  • February 17, 2016 at 11:50 pm
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    As a parent of three children who will be attending college in the near future, I am watching the incident, which is unfolding at Mount St. Mary’s. I am very disappointed in President Newman’s behavior. It is totally unacceptable for a person in his position to refer to young adults as bunnies, and drowning these bunnies, and putting a Glock to their heads. A student in high school would be expelled immediately for saying this. Why is he so interested in having our students attend school in the Middle East, (with all the universities in Europe?) Why does he want to fill the Mount with Middle Eastern students? The parents of Freshmen just dropped them off a few months ago and now they are having mental health evaluations and being tested psychologically. Who is interpreting these tests? To whom are the results being given? Did the students sign a consent form? Why make pornography available in the dorm rooms through HBO Go? Why complain of bloody crucifixes and students are being referred to as Catholic jihadists. Do the parents know the impact of these changes on their children? Why filter out the students who are struggling with all the adjustments of starting college, and being tested psychologically? Why ask students to leave, who just arrived? because Pres. Newman doesn’t think they will stay, and he wants to save them money! Pres. Newman seems determined to diminish the Catholicity of the Mount, which is the very heart and soul of this fine institution. Why are we not listening to the Staff of the “ECHO”? Why is he still there? He should be replaced immediately as he has destroyed his credibility with the faculty and students.

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  • February 18, 2016 at 1:39 am
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    As a parent of a senior, I can’t express how utterly disappointed I am in the current leadership at The Mount. If this was happening in 2012, we would have crossed The Mount off the list of Universities my daughter was interested in applying to. My daughter was accepted at several Universities including CUA, DeSales and Franciscan. Top choices were CUA and The Mount. We chose The Mount because it embraced it’s Catholic identity and CUA seemed apologetic for being Catholic.

    So the recent talk of “downplaying” The Catholic identity was very disappointing.

    Reading the recent statements have not convinced us that the current President is supportive of the Catholic identity, the students well being or that he sees the University as a school to educate students. This newest letter sounds like a marketing ploy for a discount store, lots of promises that don’t seem believable.

    Additionally, the statement from the Cardinal Newman Society about the lack of responsiveness from the current president to their requests seem to point to a lack of commitment to the Catholic identity of The Mount.

    So, this newest statement leaves me with less confidence in the leadership at The Mount than ever before.

    I am glad that my daughter is not a Freshman this year, I’m not certain I would want her to return to a school with a hostile learning environment.

    My prayers are with the Professor, staff and students at The Mount.

    Sincerely,
    Mrs Anastasia Freddino.

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  • February 18, 2016 at 7:28 am
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    The vision outlined by President Newman in his letter all sounds well and good. After all, who in the Mount community does not want to see our beloved Mount St. Mary’s grow and thrive for generations to come. However I am deeply troubled by what I have read in the national media. Mr. Newman has apologized for the sad “dead bunny” saga and I accept his apology but what about the “too many bloody crucifixes” , “catholic jihadist”, and disparaging remarks regarding home schooled students? Apparently Mr. Newman has expressed concerns that catholic students may judge their non-catholic colleagues. It sounds to me like faithful catholic students need to be more concerned about being judged by a Catholic University President who would label them “catholic jihadist”. That is just disturbing on so many levels and I think Mr. Newman owes us an explanation. Yes, I want the Mount to grow and thrive well in to the future, but with our integrity and Catholic identity intact. The Board of Trustees has a difficult task ahead of them and yes the Mount needs to be profitable, but lets not sell our own Blessed Mother to make that happen.

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  • February 18, 2016 at 11:41 am
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    I am the daughter and sister of graduates of Mount St. Mary’s, and the mother of three high school students. As a result, as our family has been reviewing college options, we have been giving very serious consideration to the Mount. We seek a solid Catholic environment for our children, and thus have reviewed the recommendations in the Cardinal Newman Guide and followed what is happening at Catholic colleges and universities in their email newsletters and in the National Catholic Register.
    My husband and I are very concerned about what we read of the Mount. While the recently released Mount 2.0 plan is an encouraging look to the future, it does not mesh with the comments and actions of President Newman. You cannot build on the school’s Catholic identity by removing crucifixes, calling some students Catholic jihadis, and deemphasizing references to Catholicism because Catholicism doesn’t sell. You can’t encourage students to enroll by referring to them as bunnies that should be drowned, or putting a Glock to their heads. It is immoral to accept students and then a few months after they enter to try to get rid of them because by a Temple Option-type test they are deemed at risk to fail. Further, the Temple Option was misapplied; it was designed to identify qualified students who do poorly on standardized tests to enroll in the university, not cull out students who already are enrolled. Here is no doubt that the Mount has had very few diversionary entertainment and social activities for students. But bringing HBO Go, which provides salacious and indecent shows among its offerings, into the dorm rooms is not the answer – especially for teens with heightened hormones. This does not seem fitting to the Mount’s Catholic identity, and to the feeling of many alumni that this is a Holy place.
    I am sure President Newman is an excellent businessman, with keen organizational knowledge. But a university is not a company, and has a culture that he apparently does not appreciate or understand. I hope that with the Board’s guidance, he can make quick adjustments to his governance style so that he can apply his financial and organizational expertise to the Mount and bring it to a new level of excellence. If not, he should leave. I and many other Catholic parents will be watching. I would like to send my children to Mount St, Mary’s

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  • February 18, 2016 at 1:18 pm
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    As the mother of a Mount freshman, I am appalled at the behavior of the faculty in this situation. Whether or not they agreed with President Newman about the survey or anything else, they should have acted in a professional manner and negotiated/discussed the issue with him (and the administration) in the proper venue using the proper process. The faculty should NOT have leaked emails and the contents of private conversations for the purpose of embarrassing the President and affecting the outcome of the discussions. It was bullying behavior and unworthy of the faculty. Say what you want about President Newman, he has some good ideas for the future of the Mount and should be given a chance to implement these ideas. And as for the allegations that the President wants to remove crosses and lessen the Mount’s Catholic identity, that is ridiculous and would never happen. Not only did he specifically pledge to maintain the Mount Catholic identity, we have many religious on the Board of Trustees and councils as well as many parents and students who would never let that happen! Everyone needs to take a deep breath and start acting in a mature fashion.

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    • February 18, 2016 at 3:42 pm
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      Is there some report that shows where the faculty did not do just what you suggest? I don’t think blaming the faculty or the student reporters is fair while absolving the President for comments that were true. If these were lies I would agree but clearly if the President is making these comments, his intentions were not honest in the survey given to your child and when 97 percent of the faculty is unhappy or fearful for their jobs then I’m thankful to the brave souls that stood up for the kids. Of course I wish this had not embarrassed the University but in the end it was the President who made this mess.

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      • February 23, 2016 at 10:58 am
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        The faculty leaked emails and the contents of private conversations to the student newspaper –that is not in dispute. So right there is the evidence that the faculty did not act in a professional manner. You cannot have successful negotiations/discussions with other professionals about school matters if you cannot trust each other. The matters at hand should have been handled internally in a respectful manner NOT selectively leaked to the media in order to embarrass the president and affect the outcome. It is not academic freedom at issue here. The faculty should have tried to be part of the solution to the issues at hand, not part of the problem. That being said, it is important now to repair the damage done and restore the Mount community. We are paying a lot of money for our child’s education at the Mount and I do not want it devalued because of this situation. Finally, with regard to the president’s unfortunate remarks about the bunnies (and we do not know the circumstances surrounding this comment as none of us were there), I would like people to consider how something stupid they might mistakenly say in a discussion would come across if published. I’m sure all of us have at some time or another said something dumb which we wish we hadn’t–unfortunately for the president, it is all that some people focus on.

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        • February 23, 2016 at 6:51 pm
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          Well clearly you are willing to minimize and justify the statements of the president but more importantly you must support the clear indication that the President did initiate and administer a survey that was inappropriate at best and for the reason to boost the retention rate at the school. While it is true that the faculty may have leaked the supporting documents to prove the Presidents intention please know that prior to the “leaking” there were professors that opposed the plan that were let go.
          Maybe you have personal knowledge of how wonderful the President is and that statements of those kind are unusual for him however his Actions speak louder than his words. He did try to manipulate the Retention rate. He did say those harsh statements. He did fire and/or demote faculty with at least one being a tenured professor. Still unclear is whether the suggestions of “Catholic doesn’t sell” “Catholic Jihadist” or “Too many bloody crucifixes ” by Newman is true. Neither he,nor the Board are willing to address and clarify/apologize for those statements. He easily and arrogantly has dismissed the 87 faculty who voted to ask that he resign. And before some suggest that the “kids” are behind him you need to know that the required survey from the SGA was not allowed to be completed anonymously. The students had to have their ID attached to their vote. As is evidence by Newmans actions that he is possibly vindictive do you really think any of those kids answered honestly? Our child did because they refused to be bullied by the President but to be honest that came with risks of being singled out or possibly losing scholarship money or internship opportunities. The rally’s were small groups of kids with donuts promised to all by the Newmans and those little signs were handed out by the school.

          In the end the Board is allowing this to settle down and I have no doubt they will side with Newman. I don’t believe they will support a truly Catholic identity going forward and the brash Englishman with the Cambridge degree is clearly the man they want to go forward with. As parents there is nothing that we can do now. Our child already gave up full rides to other schools so they could go to this CATHOLIC school even though it cost us more. We can’t change that decision now. Newman wasn’t president at the time of our decision. But the kids coming in now have a very clear idea of who and what this President is about. Two very bright students had MSM as number one on their list a month ago. One with perfect SAT scores (which would have boosted that SAT number Simon) now have serious reservations about coming here because of this mess. Very Sad.

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          • February 24, 2016 at 10:24 am
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            I certainly understand someone having reservations now about their child attending the Mount. I have another child who seemed to be interested in attending, but depending on how this whole situation is resolved will have an affect on whether she attends or not. I feel like the joy we had at our child’s attendance at the Mount is muted because I have real doubts as to the ability of the faculty to move forward from this (our child was also accepted at other very fine colleges but chose the Mount). You are very disturbed by the bunnies remark and the firing of the teachers. I view the remarks as unfortunate but given that anyone of us can say stupid things which we would not want blasted all over the media, I am willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt and take him at his word. The teachers have been offered their jobs back and I hope they take them so that there can be reconciliation at the Mount. But, none of this takes away from my first point–to disagree about the survey and the uses of its results is fine and I leave that to the administration and faculty to work out. BUT, it is not professional to purposely leak “inside” information in order to embarrass someone you disagree with and affect the outcome of the situation. That is where I have my biggest issue. Also, I do not think it is of any benefit to the Mount to pass around comments that the president supposedly made that are “anti Catholic” or whatever. That seems to be done in order to marginalize him from the rest of the Mount community. I cannot believe that he would say such things on such a Catholic campus. It doesn’t make any sense. I think the president deserves a chance to lead the Mount–one that he was not given by the faculty–in fairness, he hasn’t even been at the Mount for a year yet.
            Finally, do not dismiss the results of the survey that the students took to support the president –the students that decided to support him should also have their opinions respected, just as you would have those students who disagreed respected. I have faith in the Board of Trustees and the many religious who guide the mission of the Mount.
            You are correct that this situation is very sad.

  • February 19, 2016 at 2:19 pm
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    A good article for all parents to read is at the National Catholic Register (ncregister). I just sent it to my husband at his office and he just wrote back “wow”. We had no idea all of this was going on…we are paying attention now!

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  • February 19, 2016 at 2:23 pm
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    As an alumna of the Mount, I have been following the recent events. To me, the solution is simple. President Newman should resign from office. His remarks regarding students and the retention of students enlightens us to his view, opinion and attitude of all students. His actions/reactions to the staff and faculty is also very telling. President Newman may have a positive reputation in the economic/business arena, but this does not necessarily transfer to the position of a university president.
    There is a soul, a special sense of community, that defines the Mount. To diminish this will remove the Mount’s identity and the Mount will be become a business. The bottom line will be numbers and not people. The compassion, understanding and encouragement that is an integral part of the Mount will be lost. This does not seem to be of concern to President Newman. The current atmosphere of negativity, animosity and lack of trust will bring the university down. If the Mount continues on its current path, it would not be a school I could recommend.
    I understand the Mount needs to adjust with the times, but how you go about the change is as important, if not more so, than the change itself.

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