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In The News: AAUP Chapter President Weighs In on Controversial University Award

July 12, 2013
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university-denver-logoUniversity of Denver AAUP chapter president and former Colorado Conference Co-President Dean Saitta has a letter in today’s Denver Post opining about the DU Korbel School’s controversial decision to make an “Improving the Human Condition” Award to President George W. Bush.  Background to the controversy is in a Denver Post story, a Denver Post column by Vincent Carroll, and an excellent Colorado Independent story (with important links to other material).  As of today the Korbel School has abandoned this particular award in favor of honoring President Bush in another way.

The full text of Saitta’s letter in response to Vincent Carroll’s column:

The problem at the heart of the kerfuffle over the Korbel School’s decision to make an award to George W. Bush is not “left-leaning college faculty intent on proclaiming their moral superiority.” Rather, it’s autocratic administration failing to consult with stakeholders on a decision that affects the integrity of our students’ degrees and the credibility of a school’s academic mission.

Fostering dialogue with people who know something about international affairs is an excellent principle. But where was the University of Denver’s commitment — as expressed by spokeswoman Kim DeVigil — to honoring “multiple points of view” and “promoting discourse among diverse individuals” within the community of Korbel administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni when it was time to consider a choice for the 2013 award?

Finally, there ought to be good evidence justifying an award to a person of any political or ideological persuasion before it’s publicly announced. Conjuring an award to fit a fundraising event’s honoree seems just a tad mercenary.

The Korbel School — and the university generally — should learn from this example of poor shared governance and be better in the future.

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