Ed Egan, a professor at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, was fired after the student newspaper he advised published a story that was critical of the University president, Simon Newman. Many students and professors are up in arms about the decision. Egan was one of two professors fired.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Ed Egan Was Fired Without Severance, Effective Immediately
Ed Egan was one of two professors who were fired without severance, effective immediately, The Washington Post reported. David Rehm, Provost of Mount St. Mary’s University, was removed from his position a few days earlier after he expressed concerns about Newman’s retention plan. He was allowed to stay on the faculty.
Egan was told he was being fired because he was disloyal, The New York Times reported. But Egan believed it was because of a story published in the student newspaper about the retention policy. He said the exact reasons written in his dismissal letter were vague.
Professors were concerned about Newman’s retention policy because it included sending out a survey that would allegedly help determine which students wouldn’t last. According to The Washington Post, the survey included troublesome questions such as whether the students felt depressed, couldn’t shake the blues, or felt that their life was a failure. The Mountain Echo, the student newspaper, reported that the survey would be presented to students as a tool to help them discover more about themselves. Students would be encouraged to answer honestly because “there are no wrong answers.”
2. Egan Was a Law Professor and Adviser for the Student Newspaper
Egan worked as a law professor at Mount St. Mary’s University, where he also served as the adviser to the student newspaper, The Mountain Echo. He believed that it was his role as adviser that likely led to his firing, because of a controversial special edition the newspaper released, The New York Times reported. The articles were published on January 19.
Mount St. Mary’s official said that Egan was fired for violating “the code of conduct and acceptable use policies,” The New York Times reported. Egan, however, said there was no possible explanation for his firing except for the article’s publication in the school newspaper. Meanwhile, John Coyne, chairman of the university’s board, said that Egan had manipulated the newspaper students into portraying the retention program in a bad light, The New York Times reported:
We had a president in a private conversation with a colleague says the bad-metaphor-hall-of-fame statement, and that was the story. And the position behind it about a retention program that was never enacted, was suddenly lost in the conversation.”
Meanwhile, the students who wrote the articles said there was no pressure on them at all.
Christian Kendzierski, university spokesman, told The Frederick News-Post that Egan’s dismissal had nothing to do with the retention program or comments made about it.
3. The Student Newspaper Shared Controversial Quotes About the University President
The Mountain Echo ran a special edition where it discussed Newman’s highly controversial retention plan. Newman had an ambitious plan to double enrollment at the university while increasing retention by 4 to 5 percent, through removing 20 to 25 people from the freshmen class. However, his method for getting there is controversial. The president wanted professors and the provost to put together a list of freshmen students who weren’t likely to succeed, after just the first few weeks of the school year. This was so that the freshmen could be removed before the deadline for submitting enrollment data to the government, which might improve the school’s federal retention rate, according to The Washington Post.
When one professor expressed concern that it was too early to make such determinations, Newman said there would be some collateral damage, The Washington Post reported.
Unfortunately, he didn’t stop there. The Mountain Echo reported that Newman told professors: “This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies…put a Glock to their heads.”
Newman later apologized for using an inappropriate metaphor in what he expected was a private conversation with a faculty member, CBS News reported.
Ultimately, the survey wasn’t used and freshmen names weren’t submitted.
4. Egan Had a Long Family History with Mount St. Mary’s
Both Egan and his father had attended Mount St. Mary’s University. Egan was then the alumni chapter president and an unpaid assistant coach. He was a trustee before being asked to direct the pre-law program.
Professors across the country are seeking to have Naberhaus and Egan reinstated by the administration. Professors who signed the petition were from Stanford, North Carolina Central, the University of Nebraska, Harvard, and many other universities. You can read the petition here. It currently has more than 6,800 signatures.
Right now, Egan is banned from entering the campus. He had taught there since 2009.
5. Student Journalists Said They Were Blindsided By Egan’s Firing
Students who worked at the school newspaper said they were blindsided when Egan was let go. Ryan Golden, managing editor of The Echo, said Egan was always a staunch advocate of their work and they were appalled that he was let go, The New York Times reported.
Egan has been reviewed by one person on “Rate My Professors,” who gave him a 5.0. The reviewer wrote: “He’s 1 of those teachers that you respect but also look @ as a friend.”