Yesterday, the Board of General Theological Seminary in New York City issued a statement after meeting with 8 faculty whom the Board claimed had resigned, though the faculty dispute that.
This statement has received a largely negative response around the internet, with several bloggers connecting the GTS board’s decision with patterns of leadership across the church and higher education that promote institutional survival over maintenance of mission.
Over at AKMA, A K M Adam lambastes the patterns of imperious leadership that has brought GTS to this point.
“they have publicly and unreservedly acted against the basics of labour law and (specifically) the definitions of academic governance, asserting their lordly prerogative to fire tenured members of the faculty without observing legal process. Even if they imagine they know loopholes through which they might be able to slime their way through this without juridical penalty, the explicit facts remain that the Trustees have taken the teachers’ statement that “We did not resign” and have responded “We accept your resignations.””
Tom Ferguson, blogging at Crusty Old Dean offers a lament, in strong words, over the board’s decision to construe the faculty’s request for redress of grievances as a resignation;
“Though the exact situation is still unfolding, and not all the facts are known, there is still one very clear issue which is before us: the weaponization of resignation by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, and now by the full Board of Trustees, which was used to wrongfully terminate contractual employees.”
“The fact we are being asked to accept this bold faced manipulation is an insult to the church, let alone the gospel. It is nothing more than a violent attempt at restructuring an ecclesial institution through falsehood and deception.”
And Christopher Rodkey, writing at An Und Fűr Sich, connects the crisis at GTS with similar moves in other institutions of Higher Education to eliminate faculty of standing and wonders whether the Board might have been driving towards this result already;
“Didn’t the board and administration simply do what nearly all institutions of higher education wish they could do, if they had the chance, namely, eliminate everyone in the teaching class, and replace them with contingent faculty or even teaching administrators? Or not at all? It seems to me that the “G8″ faculty who resigned/were fired didn’t take this into account, that while their jobs were certainly on the line for making a bold statement about the leadership of their school, they didn’t really think they’d just fire everyone.”