There’s a big controversy brewing on campus right now, and no it doesn’t involve the basketball team… It involves the hiring of a dean for the College of Arts & Sciences. A from what I can tell highly qualified and respected candidate, Jodi O’Brien, who was applying from another Jesuit institution, stood out as the top candidate in the search, and was offered the position according to a few sources that I’ve seen. (NY Times, HuffPo, Seattle PI, JSOnline) But when the university did “further research” on her, they quickly withdrew the offer. Why? From all indications, it’s because she’s a lesbian….of course, Marquette won’t tell you that.
From the Seattle PI:
Nancy E. Snow, a philosophy professor who helped O’Brien hunt for houses in the area last month, said O’Brien’s work is not the real issue. “I think it’s all about her sexual orientation,” she told the newspaper.
The University’s official statement (video statement included), and what they’ve been sending out to all alumni who are complaining, is the following:
While this person has an excellent background, a record of achievement and a strong academic track record, it was decided after further analysis that this individual was not the person who could best fill this very important position.
…and from the NY Times:
Marquette, a Roman Catholic university run by Jesuits in Milwaukee, said the professor lacked “the ability to represent the Marquette mission and identity.”
It makes sense that they will point out that it’s her writings that were the reason for the withdrawal, and not her sexual orientation, because in Wisconsin, discriminating on sexual orientation is not legal. It hasn’t been that way since 1982. In fact according to WikiPedia, Wisconsin was the first state in the country to ban it.
I think this is a bullshit. I, and quite a few alumni, are not buying Marquette’s statement on this. I don’t think that her academic writings had anything to do with Marquette rescinding the offer. I think that EVERYTHING had to do with the fact that she’s an out-and-proud lesbian. And that saddens me greatly. Marquette should know better. Just because an applicant is a lesbian does not mean that she’s not able to lead a department. And if her sexual orientation, or academic work, were really that big of a deal to the Catholic identity, why then is she currently employed by another Jesuit university? She was obviously qualified enough to be offered the position in the first place, so why not put your money where your mouth is Father Wild and hire her. You say the University doesn’t discriminate on sexual orientation in your recorded statement, and that there are other LGB (maybe T?) faculty on staff at the University…. So show us alumni that you know how to do the right thing. Hire Jodi O’Brien. Or don’t, and don’t come begging for money anytime soon from me.
One Two more things:
I’m glad to see that Marquette students are voicing their displeasure in this too, and standing behind her. (And here’s the Facebook group.)
As a MUTV alum, as much as I feel dirty linking to them….here’s the Marquette Tribune’s take on this.