In a specially called meeting, the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees yesterday “terminated” the appointment of president-elect Jane K. Fernandes.
University and college boards and administrations all over the U.S. are today analyzing what happened over the past few months at Gallaudet, but I want to point out a few valuable lessons I hope these caretakers of higher education will take into consideration when faced with issues of governance.
Pre-ordained candidates still need to win over core stakeholders like the faculty and students. The wisdom of community is to be ignored at your own peril. Pricey, high-powered public relations cannot cure a bad or ill-thought-out decision. The Internet is a wild card factor that can no longer be dismissed. Bloggers can connect, report, sway and influence decisions. Students with passion are still relevant. The “big stick” doesn’t win hearts and minds. Boards of trustees must move beyond rubber-stamping to independent investigation.
Faculty and students are still what it’s all about. They are the hearts, minds and soul of Gallaudet and for that matter, every college and university. Please don’t forget that. My good wishes for healing in the Gally community.