Colorado Mesa University (CMU) announced today that CMU Vice President John Marshall is one of three candidates under final consideration to be the university’s new president.
A lot of local people are unhappy with that.
Ordinarily the second-in-command at a higher educational institution would seem a logical choice to step into the top spot, but this is the exception.
Marshall has no background in academics. He was a Republican political operative originally hired at CMU in 2007 as one of Tim Foster’s many political patronage appointments. Foster handed Marshall a plum $100,000/year job as a Development Director. Marshall’s only qualification for the job was that he was the former manager of Bob Beauprez’s losing 2006 gubernatorial campaign. Beauprez ran on a ticket with Janet Rowland as Lieutenant Governor. That’s the same Janet Rowland of Mesa County, who singlehandedly sank Beauprez’s campaign and who is now a third-term Mesa County Commissioner engaged in her own blatant act of political cronyism: a ham-handed attempt to install her pal Rose Pugliese — who is similarly poorly qualified — into the position of County Attorney.
But back to John Marshall.
To be hired as a university president one must normally have earned a doctorate or “terminal degree,” the highest possible degree a person can attain in their field.
Marshall lacks this key qualification. On the last page of his 19-page résumé, buried in the tiny “Education” section at the end, he writes that he has a “PhD in Public Policy – (Not completed, ABD).”
“ABD” means “All But Dissertation.” In other words, Marshall does not have a Ph.D. degree. It means he is a dropout from a Ph.D. program.
A university president who dropped out before attaining his Ph.D. would provide a poor example as the head of an advanced education institution.
Marshall also lists no academic publications to his name. Zero. None.
Publishing academic research in peer-reviewed journals is generally viewed as a requirement to succeed in an academic career, and a long, distinguished and successful career in academia is normally a requirement to be a University president.
But Marshall’s background is in politics, not academics.
Marshall has a lot of offensive baggage that people can’t forget or forgive.
Marshall-watchers note that he has consistently dismissed or downplayed incidents of homophobia through the years. In 2006 he also publicly insulted the state’s progressive voters.
In 2006, Marshall dismissed concerns about the over-the-top, deeply homophobic comments Janet Rowland made on the state-wide TV show “Colorado State of Mind” during Beauprez’s gubernatorial campaign. Rowland’s highly offensive comments equating homosexuality to bestiality drew national condemnation. They were a huge embarrassment for the entire state and ended up tanking Beauprez’s campaign.
Marshall’s coarse public response to the incident shocked people and revealed his own biases:
From the August 21, 2006 issue of the Denver Post :
“The response [to Rowland’s TV comments] from John Marshall, the Beauprez-Rowland campaign manager, was ‘They’re bed-wetting, pampered liberals,’ and ‘No one cares what they say about anything.'”
Marshall’s comments offended even more people.
Such talk is definitely not a good look, especially when you’re asking to become president of a university. And it’s still on the record and just as offensive now as it was then.
And that’s not all. There’s more.
When CMU football player Shane Williams was accused of slamming a lesbian woman to the street outside a bar in 2012, cracking her skull, Marshall told concerned staff members at CMU there was nothing he could do about Williams continuing at CMU because “we needed ‘due process.'” (Williams also was in possession of a fake ID and was charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol.) Even crazier than dismissing out of hand even the possibility of ejecting a violently homophobic student from the school, in the aftermath of this incident Marshall actually pressured CMU staff NOT to hold an anti-violence workshop.
And when it was reported to Marshall that a student at a CMU basketball game had yelled, “Nice sideburns, faggot!” at an opposing player, Marshall dismissed it, saying it was “just sports.”
These anecdotes — related by the anonymous people who witnessed them — along with even more appearance of cronyism among Republicans in Mesa County — are just a few reasons why so many people in the local community feel John Marshall is a bad pick, and a bad look, as the next CMU president.
The two other candidates are far more qualified, and without the baggage
The two other candidates appear far more qualified, and legitimately:
Dr. Abel Chavez, (pdf) Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success at Western Colorado University, has a (real) Doctorate in Philosophy in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has held many advanced positions within institutions of higher education. He lists 17 publications to his name on his résumé.
Dr. Mirta Martin, currently the President of Fairmont State University, also has an actual Ph.D. degree in Philosophy. She has been president of two other universities, has had a long career in academia, excelled at diversifying her schools, has won awards like “Educator of the Year,” “Most Influential Woman,” “Most inspiring woman,” etc. Dr. Martin lists ten publications to her name and she was also an educational advisor to Mexican President Vicente Fox.
Just read their résumés for yourself. They’re impressive.
In addition to being more than legitimately qualified to be President at CMU, both of these other two candidates would supply some very badly-needed diversity into the upper echelons at CMU, something that has been lacking at CMU for a very long time, and something the local Good Ole Boy/Old Guard Republican Establishment (GOB-OGRE) Crony network is incapable of supplying.
After teaching at CMU for several years, I do believe that academics are a low priority of the administration. However, the disdain for academics that comes from the top is directed primarily at the Social Sciences and Humanities. I distinctly remember when myself and another professor gave a presentation to the Board, and after our presentation, Foster remarked: “They’re pretty smart for being in the Humanities.” If you look at their graduation rate, it’s pretty abysmal compared to other similar institutions, and they often have people teach classes they’re not qualified to teach—meaning they don’t have any advanced degrees in the subject they’re teaching. I think that choosing Marshall as a finalist is just another sign of the low priority that academics has at CMU.
Thank you for weighing in, and I encourage other anonymous current or former CMU staff members to comment on their perspectives and experiences at CMU.
Why is Rowland such trash? Oh right. Its all she is. Its all she does. And its likely all she eats.
Board of Trustees at Colorado Mesa University listed “business acumen, know how to fundraise, dedication to diversity and navigating the political scene” as their top requirements for the new CMU president.
Obviously, John Marshall would fit that description as he already knows how to secure easy MILLION$ from our local city council and Mesa County Commissioners depriving our community of services and community facilities .
Noticed the Sentinel article referenced nothing about academics and full time academically prepared faculty.
The Sentinel long ago abandoned any pretext journalism. Week old wire stories and local stories so superficial they would make a TV reporter blush are its stock in trade. Still it continues to rake in huge amounts of tax money for its monopolistic publication of “legal notices”, perhaps the main reason there is no competition.
That, and posting stories to please their few advertisers, like the Board of Realtors. Their circulation numbers are in the crapper.