I am responding to attacks on University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett and Southeastern Louisiana University President John Crain by LSU professor A.R.P. Rau (June 20) and Southeastern professor Stephen Rushing (July 18) in my own behalf. However, I know Moffett, Crain and others involved in the case that led to American Association of University Professors’ censure of Southeastern, where I work, and I have read the AAUP report and university response.
Rau gratuitously insults Moffett’s “less-than-modest credentials.” Actually, at Southeastern, Moffett dramatically improved the College of Education as dean; skillfully handled administration as provost; and regularly consulted the Faculty Senate, upheld academic freedom, supplemented state pay raises, increased research budgets and implemented admission standards as president. After Katrina, he took in over 2,000 displaced students with no guarantee that Southeastern would receive a penny for doing so. As UL president, he fought budget cuts despite considerable risks. Many of us consider him a hero.
Rushing grossly mischaracterizes the UL response to AAUP. The supposedly confidential draft report AAUP provided to the UL System on Jan. 27 ignored abundant evidence contrary to its apparently foregone conclusions. Moreover, it was made public the following week, contrary to AAUP promises and before the university could respond. Moffett pointed out numerous errors on Feb. 1 and Feb. 23 to AAUP’s Jordan Kurland, but AAUP ignored him. By the time Crain wrote to Kurland on March 1 it was, indeed, pointless to respond to a report he rightly characterized as “beyond remediation.”
In the remarks Rau and Rushing denounce, Moffett justifiably defended Southeastern. Crain has worked tirelessly to protect faculty, students and programs from devastating budget cuts and kept faculty informed to a degree my colleagues at other institutions find astounding. If there is a “climate of fear” at Southeastern, blame state government, not him. Moreover, Moffett is correct that AAUP has no legal authority over the UL System, which is governed by the Louisiana Constitution, state laws, and Board of Regents and UL policies.
Southeastern terminated the French baccalaureate program and associated faculty because the Board of Regents (not the UL Board) made clear that it planned to do so because of massive budget cuts and the program’s low completer status (two graduates per year). The dismissed faculty members were my friends, and I hate what happened to them, but I have heard no plausible alternative.
Rau is right to deplore LSU’s firing of Ivor van Heerden and state government hostility to education, but Moffett and Crain have nothing to do with that. Rushing is just plain wrong. At a time when higher education and public schools are routinely a target, it is important for faculty to distinguish between friends and enemies. Randy Moffett and John Crain are friends.
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