Statement from Professor Naberhaus of Mount St. Mary’s University


Thane Naberhaus, the tenured associate professor of philosophy at Mount St. Mary’s University who was one of several recently fired or demoted by the university’s president, Simon Newman, and then, last Friday, reinstated, sent along the following statement Sunday evening:

Having been reinstated as a member of the Mount St. Mary’s faculty, I have decided to return to the classroom beginning tomorrow.

For my 8:00 a.m. lecture class I will be teaching on the scheduled topic, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, in which Plato presents his radical notion that education is not a matter of filling the mind with knowledge, but of turning the soul toward Truth.

My return to teaching has nothing to do with accepting the “mercy” of President Newman. (It should be remembered that the charges against me still have not been specified.) Rather, I am returning for my students, who were left without a replacement for me last week. My aim in returning is the same as my aim in teaching generally: to deepen the hunger for truth in my students.

I invite my colleagues at the Mount and other universities to join me in solidarity by exploring, in whatever way they deem appropriate, similar themes in their classes this week. I hope some of you will post in the comments any plans you may develop along these lines. Thank you for your continued support—of me, and more importantly of the principles of academic freedom and the sober, fearless pursuit of truth.

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John Schwenkler
John Schwenkler
5 years ago

I am proud to have this man a as a colleague and friend.

In solidarity, my section of Introduction to Philosophy this week at Florida State University will discuss the primacy of conscience. Today we will read and discuss the Letter from a Birmingham City Jail: http://abacus.bates.edu/admin/offices/dos/mlk/letter.html. Wednesday we will read selections from Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 19: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2019.htm.Report

Karen Stohr
Karen Stohr
5 years ago

Thane, your students are very lucky in every way.
In my Introduction to Ethics course on Wednesday, we will be discussing integrity. The reading is Cheshire Calhoun, “Standing for Something,” Journal of Philosophy 92, no. 5 (May 1995): 235-260.Report

Peter
Peter
5 years ago

He’s doing the right tactic legally as well as morally. Just as in the famous US Supreme court case of Barnes (1943) where the parents sent their children into school every day to be sent back home because they wouldn’t recite the pledge of allegiance to the US flag. They had to do that to avoid being truant and then their parents being arrested for that. Naberhaus must teach or risk being fired for cause. So good tactic!Report

Peter
Peter
5 years ago
Prezident Newman
5 years ago

In other news, the majority of MSMU students polled disagree with the faculty about whether or not the president of MSMU should resign. Such good judgment by the students is yet another reason why student evaluations should be the primary metric to evaluate faculty (and college presidents). Read more about it here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/02/14/another-survey-at-mount-st-marys-and-this-one-shows-strong-support-for-the-president/

One paragraph is especially delicious:

“Mount St. Mary’s University needs Simon Newman,” Witkowski said. “He is an intelligent businessman with only the Mount’s best interest at heart. He has given a number of speeches and presentations to keep transparency between administration and student body, and for that he should be admired. As a student, he has exceeded my expectations as a president.”

The student is right. Newman IS all for transparency: student survey data about their mental well being is 100% transparent to administration! And Newman has no qualms with his own words being transparent to students, unless they make him look bad, in which case someone (not Newman) is losing their job!

-Prezident Newman (a fan of the other Newman)

To read more of Prezident Newman’s thoughts, go to https://twitter.com/prezidentnewmanReport

Brian Henning
Brian Henning
Reply to  Prezident Newman
5 years ago

Given that Newman attempted to unethically use a survey to identify for removal at risk students, I have difficulty believing any survey results produced by his office. Students would rightly be afraid of the consequences of their responses. It is shameful for a president to care more about his position than the good of the university’s students.Report

Avi Z.
Avi Z.
Reply to  Brian Henning
5 years ago

It is true that any survey where students were not anonymous is suspect. That said, unfortunately, I do not find it difficult to believe that many students admire Mr. Newman and wish to be as successful in business as he has been, whilst at the same time thinking of themselves as devoutly religious as he thinks himself to be. I also do not find it difficult to believe that many students would like to see their required philosophy courses (and the faculty who teach them) replaced with more career-oriented courses and personnel, a goal that Mr. Newman may share. In short, who needs actual liberal arts education or genuine Catholic social justice commitment when you can have school team spirit to make you proud, career preparation to make you wealthy, and weekly holy mass to make you feel devout? Newman cynically knows he can pit students against faculty. His hypocrisy in doing so is breathtaking.Report

Heath White
Heath White
5 years ago

Re: the student survey. This is great:

“Some alumni and faculty who oppose President Newman were skeptical that students would feel comfortable giving an unbiased opinion in a survey that required response to the administration with their student IDs.”Report

Prezident Newman
Reply to  Heath White
5 years ago

Heath, requiring students to give their id numbers is consistent with the administration’s goals for greater transparency. What students took the survey and what they think is not completely transparent to the administration.Report