Some CMU staff upset by University President John Marshall wearing what appeared to be a doctoral robe

CMU President John Marshall at the December, 2021 graduation ceremony

Some Colorado Mesa University (CMU) instructors who have doctorate degrees were upset to see CMU President John Marshall at the December graduation ceremony wearing what looked like the type of graduation robe worn only by doctoral students upon their graduation.

It was an easy mistake to make.

A gown exactly like it with three bars on the sleeves indicates someone who has earned a doctorate or Ph.D. degree.

Doctoral gown

President gown

A gown with four bars on the sleeves indicates a sitting university president, regardless of degrees, or lack thereof.

The flurry of indignation over this matter, though, indicates some members of CMU staff are not only keeping a close eye on Marshall, but are also acutely aware that he lacks a doctorate degree as well as the knowledge and academic experience that goes with it, including having done in-depth research and successfully publishing in peer-reviewed journals. These are normally are prerequisites for anyone holding a position of university president.

Before working at CMU, Marshall made his living as a Republican political operative who, in 2006, called progressive voters “Bed-wetting, pampered liberals,” adding “No one cares what they say about anything.”

Weasel wording

Marshall worked to minimize the fact that he lacks a Ph.D. or doctorate degree on his résumé when he applied for the job.

On the last page of his 19-page résumé (which has now been removed from CMU’s website), buried at the bottom of the tiny “Education” section he included at the end, he wrote that he has a “PhD in Public Policy – (Not completed, ABD).”

“ABD” means “All But Dissertation.” In other words, Marshall is a dropout from a Ph.D. program. He also listed no academic publications to his name, either.

A university president who dropped out of a Ph.D.  program sets a poor example as the head of an advanced education institution, and people who have actually earned real doctorate degrees are acutely aware of that.

 

  9 comments for “Some CMU staff upset by University President John Marshall wearing what appeared to be a doctoral robe

  1. History repeats itself again and again. We went through this before when Foster was hired over the then acting President who had experience and a Ph.D but was the wrong political party and the wrong religion.

  2. Thank you for your helpful explanation of a “sitting President gown”.

    Finding candidates to be a good fit for a particular school is, of course, multi factorial. Many college presidents now come from nontraditional backgrounds and are not necessarily PhDs. Many are now hired from outside of higher education.

    It seems important to examine how well candidates interact with campus constituents, the schools mission, the community at large and weigh leadership skills or evidence of intrinsic motivation.

    Successful college presidents have strong leadership and communication skills and high integrity.

    Fair minded faculty and community members will give him a chance and show restraint to mean, undermining judgement and criticism.

    • “Mean”? He treats women as subordinates in professional settings, he’s condoned homophobic actions by students, he’s under qualified for the position of university president, and he’s undermined his own work on CMU’s Covid-19 response by promoting herd immunity and not pushing for more vaccinations on campus. He’s shown himself to be lacking in integrity on numerous occasions and so I’m wondering – what exactly has he done to deserve restraint? You’re out of touch Dr. Holt, and your calls for “restraint” appear to this gen-Xer as nothing more than a desire to uphold the status quo. John Marshall was the least qualified candidate for university president, and he was chosen over a non-white and female candidate who were more qualified. I strongly encourage you to read Mediocre, by Ijeoma Oluo, about the social costs of promoting hacks like John Marshall.

  3. Remember when the only thing Sarah Palin could come up with about Barack Obama was that he was a community organizer? Of course he had a degree from Harvard law and was the editor of the Harvard law review, but that’s here nor there. John Marshall is a little more than an agitator–I doubt he’s ever organized anything in his life–but I guess somehow he gets a pass. Behold, Colorado mesa, president Foster’s gift that keeps on giving, John marshall! Sort of like herpes, only the flare up is constant.

  4. Remember when the only thing Sarah Palin could come up with about Barack Obama was that he was a community organizer? Of course he had a degree from Harvard law and was the editor of the Harvard law review, but that’s here nor there. John Marshall is a little more than an agitator–I doubt he’s ever organized anything in–but I guess somehow he gets a pass.

  5. CMU only undermines the quality, diversity, and sustainability of their own core function by refusing to hire a qualified academic AND to pay a fair wage to Faculty who conduct the essential work of teaching and research. The salaries of most of their Professors (far more qualified than this political hack) are pathetic! It is a shame students pay a very high price for an education that CMU Faculty does not benefit with a livable wage salary. Lesson in hypocrisy!

    • Spot on, thanks Diane. I had 10 years of experience, two BAs, an MA and PhD. I was three years into a tenure-track position and was accomplished in my field with many publications and conference presentations. When I left CMU due to pay and poor working conditions and pivoted into tech, my *starting* salary was $15k more than my academic salary. I’m now a member of a group for academics who have left or are looking to leave higher ed. The group has over 12k members and has grown exponentially during the Great Resignation. Academics are giving up on higher ed in droves. I found CMU to be worse than the other four institutions I worked for previously, and I have no doubt that they will have difficulty recruiting *quality* professors.

  6. Like so many things here in Mesa County, the CMU President’s position has become nothing but a political position; bestowed as a reward for loyalty, and expecting absolutely no competence in the job itself.

  7. Full frontal view of John Marshall’s super-PhD gown reminds one of Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during Super Bowl halftime.

    CMU president John “Master’s Degree” Marshall cashes a hefty paycheck for attending meetings, while teaching staff who have earned real PhDs have to actually work to pay their bills.

Leave a Reply to former professor Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.