Thursday, April 23, 2015

There Is Such A Thing As Bad Publicity

Hello all! I hope you are all having a fantastic week tantamount to the thought of The Rocky Horror Picture Show reenacted by barn owls!

I received my bachelor's degree from a little university known as Northwest Nazarene University. 

It's in Nampa.

No, that's Napa, which is in California and there were no vineyards surrounding NNU's campus. Nampa, Idaho.

No, not Ohio. You know what, never mind I'm sure you have Google if you're really that curious.

The point is that NNU has been making some headlines! That's right, I can finally say what university I graduated from and no longer have people say, "What?"

Instead I can now hear people say, "Oh! You went to that school that fired that one tenured professor in a really public and awful way, causing a giant scandal and making the faculty nearly start a revolution, including pitchforks and torches?"

Yup, NNU, home of our new mascot 'The Administrative Scandal Machines.'

So for those of you who missed this story on the news here is a brief recap:

A tenured theology professor, Dr. Tom Oord, was informed via e-mail with no warning that he was being laid off (basically the campus president, one Dr. Alexander, sent a break-up text). Dr. Oord, who has not only been a senior member of faculty for a while now, but has some of the most respected publications, is one of the student body's most beloved instructors and just an all around swell guy, had no warning. He was simply given the boot.

The president claimed 'budget issues.' The staff and students claimed he was targeted for his beliefs, which are a bit more progressive than the current acting university president whom I'm not entirely sure has realized that the Spanish Inquisitions, which I'm sure were fun for him and his buddies, are over now.

As it turns out the 'budget issues' were in fact caused by the university president. Against all advice (even his Magic 8 Ball told him "no") he entered into several deals with outside companies that he then later had to use over a million dollars to buy the university out of.

Then, in the pretty much only salvageable moment of this entire debacle, the faculty joined together and called for a vote of 'no confidence' for the President Alexander.

Now both sides are in uneasy delegations, the layoffs of Dr. Oord and other staff have been put on hold, and the president himself is wanting to lead an investigation into "what went wrong."

As one of the alumni of this university who has managed to pay off the nearly crippling debt they left me with after obtaining my degree, I have every right to weigh in on this (plus it's my blog, so there you go).

First, Dr. Alexander is a bombastic twit. I know, I know, Christian charity calls for me to turn the other cheek and not say things bluntly.

But I'm the head of security for a homeless shelter, so my filter has holes big enough to drive a truck through and I have a low tolerance for the smoke and mirrors some are using to cover the giant pile of panda-poo they're trying to hide.

If you are the cause of the issue, you should not be the one to lead the investigation into your own mistakes (thank goodness the board of directors did not side with him on that). That's a little like having the murderer investigate the murder they committed, "The victim clearly stabbed himself... Yes I'm aware that the knife is the center of his back, but come on, he looks flexible, right!?"

Nope, Still Not Buying It
Second, when you send letters out to the alumni begging them to still believe in your ability to lead and make honest decisions, you shouldn't sound like the kid who got caught with their hand in the cookie jar that is still trying to salvage their innocence.

The entire letter basically boiled down to, "We're not saying we did anything wrong, but if we did something wrong, then we might be sorry. But we didn't do anything wrong! Sure, maybe some teeny-weenie mistakes were made, just maybe though..."

Third, when there is a one-million-plus dollar deficit that is all thanks to you making a decision that literally everyone else told you was a terrible idea, maybe you should consider that the wrong person was removed from their post.

Finally, there was a claim that 'floundering enrollment' was part of the reason for Dr. Oord's release from his position. Well, now you have the media's attention and so far that I've seen, none of it has been overly positive. How do you feel about your chances for increased enrollment now, bub?

As NNU pushes through this tough time, I would like to say that I back the faculty there one-hundred percent. You are all awesome and your vote of 'no-confidence' in a man that I had no confidence in ever since the day he told me being sexually harassed was, "Nothing I should be worried about," made me do a happy, if slightly vindictive, little dance.

I can only hope and pray that the school makes the right decision moving forward and decides to support it's faculty, before it's faculty decide to move on.

For my normally less critical and scathing wit, feel free to come find me on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and check out my books here.

Also, there will be one week without a new post from Normally Surreal as I am off on an adventure! Normally Surreal will return with a new post May 8, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!

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