University Suicide Watch, Chapter 4

When last we checked in on the unassisted suicide-in-progress of American universities, we noted that Hiram College in Ohio is eliminating several departments in the humanities and social sciences, following the similar announcement of a University of Wisconsin branch campus. Today’s humanities demolition derby is occurring at Rider University in New Jersey, as reported this morning in the Wall Street Journal. This news is upsetting the faculty! Cue the world’s smallest violin:

As the president of Rider University, Gregory Dell’Omo wanted to cut the art, French and philosophy majors among others to help solve the New Jersey school’s budget shortfalls.

The faculty rebelled, passing a vote of no confidence in the president in April 2017 by a margin of three to one. “His approach to the school is to treat it as just another business,” said Arthur Taylor, a professor of information systems at Rider University and president of the faculty union, at the time. “It is not. It is a not for profit with an academic mission.”

Good luck with that whole “academic mission” thing if students are fleeing your departments.

Meanwhile, down at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, the bookstore pulled copies of a children’s book about Robert E. Lee’s horse, Traveller, because of faculty complaints. I’m guessing the complaining faculty don’t like any competition to be the biggest horse’s asses on campus:

On March 9, 2018, a book was pulled from both the Washington and Lee University Bookstore and the Lee Chapel Museum Shop after a W&L professor accused the book of painting a sympathetic picture of the Confederate States of America and the Old South. The book was not The Clansmen, the basis of D.W. Giffith’s The Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, or the notoriously problematic History of the American People by Woodrow Wilson, but a children’s book written about one of Robert E. Lee’s most beloved companions and most trusted warhorse, Traveller.

The book, entitled My Colt: The Story of Traveller, was written by Margaret Samdahl, who worked at the Lee Chapel Museum for thirteen years. Samdahl says that she decided to write the book to respond to Lee Chapel patron’s demands for a child-friendly book on Traveller. . .

William Dudley, president of Washington and Lee, lived up (or rather, down) to his duty to be spineless wimp by writing to the book’s author on April 2:

“W&L suspended sales of My Colt: The Story of Traveller due to concerns raised by faculty members. These concerns led our staff to initiate a review of the policies and practices that govern the selection of books for sale in our retail locations. Having determined that the book does not violate current policies, the book is once again available for sale on campus.”

Yes, Washington and Lee is named for George Washington and Robert E. Lee.  In fact, Lee served as president of Washington and Lee after the Civil War, when it was just Washington College. His name was added to the university later. Strange that the faculty and students haven’t demanded that Lee’s name be dropped from the university. And just wait until they learn that George Washington owned slaves, and shot people dead during the Revolutionary War.

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