Is there anything more contemptible than revisionist history from a failed university president?
The interviewer asks Prisco why she left Felician University for Holy Family University. We get no cogent, responsive answer to this question.
She was drawn from Felician University to Holy Family, we’re told in this article, because of the latter’s sense of community and responsibility. Wouldn’t that just be a confession of failure? She was President of Felician from 2012 to 2020. What prevented her from promoting a sense of community and responsibility at Felician in all that time? I guess she was too busy firing people to get around to it.
She was, we’re told, “familiar” with HFU. She wasn’t familiar with Felician? Eight years as President didn’t do the trick?
She sings the praises of HFU’s academics. What about Felician’s academics? Did we fall short of “Dr. Prisco’s” exalted standards? Her sneeringly dismissive attitude toward academic research around 14:00 into the interview suggests pretty low academic standards, actually.
HFU, she says, was in “a strong financial position.” Is she trying to tell us, belatedly, that Felician wasn’t? Because that wasn’t at all what she told us when she was President. We were all given to believe through her eloquent speechifying that her financial acumen had put us in the black (albeit always close enough to the red to justify the latest termination).
“Oh, but HFU has a Gen Ed Curriculum.” Right–so did Felician. It was Anne Prisco herself who went out of her way to mangle the Gen Ed Curriculum we had before she graced us with her presence, and to give us the confused mess she shoved down our throats for the following eight years. Granted, if you’d never taught or advised a single student during this time, or shepherded them through the Gen Ed mess you’d made, none of this would necessarily have occurred to you.
“Right, but HFU is in the northeast.” Hmm. Well, according to both Siri and Google Maps, Rutherford, New Jersey is also firmly in the northeast.
“Ah, but HFU has satellite campuses.” I hear you, Doc, but believe it or not, so did Felician. Truth is stranger than fiction, isn’t it? We had one campus in…Lodi…and one in Rutherford. Remember? And then we had articulated programs at community colleges around the state. I guess you forgot, but I drove to those satellite campuses–in Paterson, in Edison, in West Windsor. Then I taught at them. Whilst doing so, I encountered the sullen community college students who felt cheated by the indifference and insensitivity of Felician’s executive leadership, starting with its President. I relayed those messages back to your VPAA. And yet with amazing consistency, every word fell on deaf ears. What about those satellite campuses, the ones you left behind in New Jersey?
The interviewer somehow avoids asking about the fact that President Prisco left Felician because she was removed from her position by the Board of Trustees. Is she expecting her audience to believe that that involuntary removal played no role in her departure? Or is she just hoping that her audience won’t know? “Dare not to know” is a perfect description of the essence of her presidency.
If I were doing the interview, I’d have asked: what about your nepotistic hire of your Felician VPAA, Sylvia McGeary, as “Accreditation Liaison Officer” at HFU? Sylvia used to make a big show of badmouthing Anne when I sat in the former’s office, during my periodic (and inevitably pointless) attempts to get straight answers from her to my questions about what the “President’s Council” thought it was doing as it “ran” the University. Now Sylvia once again sits at Anne’s throne, a vivid example of the very thin line that distinguishes backstabbing from ass-kissing.
The problem with Felician was and is that without tenure, no one could (or can) call out the malfeasances of those in charge. The bold are fired or resign; the prudent keep their mouths shut. The game goes on. And on. And on. They didn’t earn their AAUP Censure Status for nothing. I still get threats from Felician administrators about what I say on social media, as though I still worked in the ninth-rate prison they call a “university.” Did they miss the memo that I resigned over their malfeasances? Shall I resend it?
The people currently in charge of Felician are, if anything, a step below the ancien regime under which I served, a bit like France under Napoleon Bonaparte after the reign of Louis XVI, uninterrupted by the salutary influence of Robespierre or St Just. The university’s current President is a disgraced naval admiral with zero experience in higher education. I guess that’s why they hired him: with his bullying style, love of hierarchy, contempt for procedure, and indifference to academic values, he should fit right in at FU. But it’s hard to compare two sets of candidates, old and new, in a race to the bottom. The only worthwhile comparisons to make are those between decency and indecency, honesty and dishonesty, fairness and unfairness, competence and incompetence. In that light, almost all of Felician’s executive leadership, past and present, deserves failing grades on all four counts.
I regret not saying all this more loudly and clearly when I was there—despite the fact that I was widely regarded as a hothead and a loudmouth. What Felician needed was a hotter head connected to a louder mouth. It still does.
The press should stop falling for these administrative grifters. But on this topic, mainstream journalists are indistinguishable from writers of ad copy–regurgitating the same happy-pappy bullshit in unison; serving up the same stupid buzz phrases; dishing out the same uncritical acceptance of whatever rubbish is uttered by those in power.
Nothing requires anyone to care about higher education. But if you do, either you knowingly acquiesce in the deceptions that its “leaders” perpetrate, or you resist them. I prefer resistance. You may prefer acquiescence. There are, I guess, pros and cons either way. But either strategy beats the delusional belief that all is well in the ivory tower. Take a long, hard look at these people and ask yourself whether you can say that with a straight face.
Free botany lesson, by the way.
(The views I express here are exclusively my own, and do not represent, or claim to represent, anyone besides myself. For the benefit of people who have trouble grasping the obvious.)