Whereas universities across the United States are launching aid programs to improve student retention rate, a university president in Maryland has devised a rather inappropriate way to tackle the issue.
Mount St. Mary’s University President Simon Newman was reportedly developing a plan to dismiss 20-25 freshmen even before they arrived on campus last August. Not only did he want to cut off students who weren’t likely to succeed in the academic year, he used an extremely graphic metaphor to explain his plan to his fellow professors and educators.
“This is hard for [professors] because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t,” Newman said during a conversation with faculty members last September, according to school’s newspaper The Mountain Echo. “You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads.”
Is using “drowning” and “putting Glocks to the head” in relation to a student program acceptable in any way? Of course, it is not.
Since schools have to submit their enrollment statistics by the end of September, after which their retention rates are calculated, Newman asked the director of Veritas Symposium, Greg Murry, to identify freshmen who would be “unlikely to make it” based on their performance in the opening weeks.
When the professor responded that this plan would expel students who could use the symposium to adapt themselves to college life, Newman reportedly replied, “There will be some collateral damage.”
Fortunately, the horrendous scheme was never implemented because Newman failed to receive the list of names by the deadline.
“The inferences, the innuendo, it’s not accurate at all — the conclusions one would naturally draw from reading it,” Newman recently told The Washington Post in an attempt to clear his name. “I’ve probably done more swearing here than anyone else. It wasn’t intended to be anything other than, ‘Some of these conversations you may need to have with people are hard.'”
Faculty member John Larrivee corroborated the The Echo’s story, confirming that the quotes were accurate.
With scores of freshmen dropping out of college each year, student retention remains one of the most pressing issues faced by educational institutions in the United States.
Schools have been working to resolve this issue in a feasible manner, but with budgets stretched tight across the board, only a few have managed to find a practical solution. Hopefully, none of the other universities and colleges have an idea similar to Newman’s.