A recent blog article about the search to fill the Presidency of the New Mexico state system provided a similar feeling, as it explained that both James Oblinger, the disgraced former Chancellor of North Carolina State, and Richard Herman, the vilified former Chancellor of the University of Illinois, are among the finalists for the position. While I can make MANY jokes about the possible interview questions (e.g., when the Governor's daughter's best friend gets rejected for admission to the university and the Governor calls to complain, what will you do? What if, while he has you on the phone, he tells you that his wife needs a job?), it reassures me that the bar for senior leaders is actually a little lower than I would have thought.
Now, my feminist sister-outlaw would say that I shouldn't get too carried away, and that the lowness of the bar is actually just the setting for white guys, not for the rest of us.
But all one has to do is check out the professional rebound of former University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman, who saw so many scandals in her time at CU that it is hard to list them all:
- a nationally watched football recruiting scandal that culminated in a
federal lawsuit filed by three women who claimed the university athletics
department knowingly allowed sexual assaults by CU football players or recruits
- CU Professor Ward Churchill calling Sept. 11th victims “little Eichmanns”
- the drinking death of an 18-year old fraternity pledge
- a student riot on Halloween
- Hoffman's embarassing state legislative testimony where she explained that the term "cunt" could be used as a "term of endearment"
So, where did Dr. Hoffman end up after she was fired? Well, as the Provost at Iowa State University! So, while the boys may move laterally or even move up, looks like the women might have to take a little step down. Nonetheless, one step back is pretty good, considering.
So, former Iowa Central Community College President Robert Paxton--oh, he of the "shirtless beer bong with young coeds" pic that went viral and cost him his job--should take heart! While he may have lost his lawsuit against the community college for
Yep, in some cynical way, I am encouraged by the lower bar these stories suggest. It becomes a little more feasible for me to become a President or Chancellor. Obviously, I would aim to be better than these feckless few, but it is good to know a mistake or two wouldn't cost me a future in academic leadership. And thanks to these stories, I know behaviors I want to avoid: covering up rape on campus, boozing with students, setting up patronage jobs for politicos, and helping their friends get into our institutions. Yeah, I think I can manage that.