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Mar 18, 2004 7:09 am

Depends On Whose Ox Is Blogged ...

The Hattiesburg American and the Jackson Clarion Ledger report that Mississippi state college presidents meeting in Jackson yesterday closed their meeting to reporters when they took up the situation at the University of Southern Mississippi. The presidents met in Jackson in anticipation of the state College Board meeting today, when it is expected to consider the same problem. The American praises the Board's decision to consider the matter even though it had not been on its agenda. The Clarion Ledger rightly notes that votes of no confidence by faculties in an institution's president have often not forced the president's ouster. (See also: Scott at Little Mean Fish and scroll down.) But, as William Marina at Liberty & Power and authorities cited by the Clarion Ledger point out, faculty votes of no-confidence in a president are rare, perhaps a half-dozen to a dozen a year in the United States, because faculty members prefer to teach and do their other work. This is not a situation which a faculty readily seeks out.

In the meantime, Kikuchiyo at Kikuchiyo News has withdraw the suggestion that I am a bit too"tightly wound"about the situation at USM because of my criticism of Oxblog's David Adesnik for regarding such struggles as"tempests in a teapot." But, if you pull a Yalie's nose hard enough, even a Yalie pays attention. Sure, Henry Kissinger said:"University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small." But tell that to my colleague, KC Johnson. The"stakes" were just his whole career. The"stakes," Henry and David, may be small, but they are all we have. They are high enough for college and university presidents from all over the state to confer in Jackson because they know that what happens at USM has implications for their institutions, as well. As David Beito and Charles W. Nuckols at Liberty & Power point out, resolution of the matter at USM may have implications for tenure at public institutions elsewhere. Finally, speaking of"all over the state," David, you made my point about a Yalie. USM isn't in the"Mississippi Delta." It's at the other end of the state. You'd learn a lot just by teaching a couple of years at Jackson State or Missippi University for Women. The air at Oxford, England, is just too rarified. Try Oxford, Mississippi. Try managing a world economy or democratizing the Middle East from there. You might find that there is a job to be done at home.

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Ralph E. Luker - 3/18/2004

Thanks for this. We _may_ know soon enough. The Clarion Ledger reports that the state College Board went into a closed session at 8:45 this morning without Thames being included. I should note that the faculty at Millsaps and the Faculty Senate at the University of Alabama have passed resolutions favorable to the two professors and critical of the administration at USM.

Robert L. Campbell - 3/18/2004

Thank you for staying on David Adesnik concerning the crisis at USM. Maybe he'll eventually correct his "cognitive map" of Mississippi--and learn how most universities work.

The Clarion-Ledger item on faculty votes of no confidence reminds us they can fail to dislodge a bully (John Silber at BU) or a flaming crook (Peter Diamandopoulos at Adelphi). My hope remains that Shelby Thames has become such a political liability for the Mississippi IHL Board that they'll get rid of him.

I guess we'll know soon enough...

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