Around Town: Academic Freedom - Turning Chandler debacle into a ‘teachable moment’
by Otis Brumby, Bill Kinney, Joe Kirby
Around Town Columnists
March 22, 2011 03:00 AM | 4197 views | 11 11 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DOES THE KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY need a refresher course in academic freedom? Some there clearly think so. The KSU branch of the American Association of University Professors has scheduled a forum on Thursday on the topic "What is Academic Freedom?" featuring Dr. Hugh Hudson, executive secretary of the Georgia Conference of the AAUP.

The event clearly comes in response to the aborted nomination of Kent State University senior associate Provost Dr. Timothy Chandler to be Provost of Kennesaw State.

"We see the Chandler episode as a teachable moment," KSU history professor Dr. Tom Keene told the MDJ on Monday. "This will be the first of a series. The press is warmly welcome!"

Chandler ultimately chose not to come after a KSU professor tipped off the MDJ to an academic paper the nominee had co-written in 1998 about university governance reform. The paper was written from a Marxist viewpoint, according to Chandler, and described the United States as "the most violent nation-state in history." That remark has prompted some to wonder how Chandler could have earned a Ph.D. without ever having heard of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia or Maoist China. Others are still shaking their heads that anyone could find anything positive to say about the philosophy that underlay the latter two of those regimes.

A common thread among feedback AT has received over the past two weeks is how the KSU Provost Search Committee could have thought that someone with such views would ever be a good fit as the No. 2 person at KSU, which relies heavily on support from the local business community and the state legislature.

After belatedly learning of the Chandler paper, KSU President Dan Papp spoke disparagingly of it and offered little more in the way of encouragement than to say that Chandler was "a nice guy." Chandler decided to stay put at Kent State after the KSU Faculty Senate last week declined to pass a statement supporting his nomination.

Papp celebrates a birthday this week, and wags have noted that Chandler's decision to stay put is probably the best birthday present that he could have received. The next-best would be for the Chandler story to die down. But that doesn't appear to be on his faculty's shopping list.

There's no word on whether Papp will be in attendance at Thursday's "Academic Freedom" forum. But if he chooses to be elsewhere, who could blame him? As Around Town reported Saturday, he was subjected to a public mini-lecture on the positive legacy of Karl Marx last week from one of his own professors. Papp, who was introducing New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof at a "Pathways to Peace" Conference, was introduced to the crowd by associate professor Tom Pynn, coordinator of the Peace Studies Program at the school. Among other things, Pynn described Marx's "The Communist Manifesto" as "a call to conscience."

Thursday's event will take place at noon in the atrium of the Social Sciences Building. The public is invited.

MARIETTA City Manager Bill Bruton said he expects to announce the names of the two doctors and two nurse practitioners who will staff the city’s new health clinic by Wednesday. Bruton expects city employees will be able to begin using the clinic the first part of April, although Bruton originally said he expected the clinic to open in February. The City has had a lease since Jan. 1 on the old J.F. Shaw Insurance Building at 78 Atlanta St., where it plans to house the operation.

What Bruton didn’t tell the Around Town is that he rejected the first three doctors that CareHere of Tenn., the firm that will run the clinic, recommended be hired on the grounds that they were not a “a good fit” with the city, whatever that means.

In September, Council approved funding the clinic in a vote of 4-2, with Van Pearlberg and Grif Chalfant opposed, and Johnny Sinclair absent.

The clinic is an exclusive benefit for the 695 city employees, their 1,121 dependents, as well as 255 retirees and their 121 dependants. It does not impact their existing health insurance, but serves as an added bonus, charging no co-pay. At the time Council approved the clinic, Bruton claimed it would see savings to its health care expenses of $3 million from January 2011 to December 2014. We’ll see.

***


SO WITH THE COBB SPLOST out of the way, attention next shifts to next year’s planned T-SPLOST, the vote to approve a regional tax to pay for regional traffic improvements. And you can expect it to be a “harder” sell in Cobb than last week’s SPLOST was, according to Marietta attorney and political strategist Heath Garrett, who helped manage the Cobb effort.

“The T-SPLOST will be harder in Cobb County than (Tuesday’s) vote was,” he told Marietta Rotarians as their speaker on Wednesday. “And this was a very difficult and engaged campaign.”

But in some ways, the T-SPLOST will be an easier vote because the project list it will fund will be so large, he said. “When you tell folks you’re going to improve I-285 and I-75, and you’re to improve I-75 at I-575, and this is what you’re going to do, those projects are so large and touch so many people that they can get their mind around them and say, ‘OK, I’m going to give one more penny for that.’

“The flip side is the numbers are so much larger. It’s $10 billion over a 10-year period. So it’s going to be difficult. And this region is so diverse economically, politically and philosophically. Clayton County and its government are on one end of the spectrum and Cobb County and its government are on the other. I think what people are going to be suspicious of is, ‘Is any of my money going to Clayton?’ and vice versa. Nobody in Clayton wants a single one of their pennies coming up here to Cobb, so that’s a balancing act.”

***


GOOD THINGS ARE WORTH WAITING FOR: You’ll recall that Gov. Nathan Deal’s inaugural festivities, organized by Tricia Pridemore of east Cobb, were severely disrupted by January’s very un-Georgia-like heavy snow and ice. The weather was so bad that the swearing-in was moved inside the Capitol and the inaugural ball was “cancelled.”

Now it appears the operative word should have been “postponed.” Around Town has learned that the ball is likely going to take place May 2 at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

***


MARSHA LAKE has announced her candidacy for the State Court Division I judgeship now held by Roland Castellanos, who has announced his plans to seek the Superior Court seat long held by Judge Dorothy Robinson, who is retiring.

Lake ran unsuccessfully in a crowded three-way race for the State Court Division II judgeship last year against Angela Brown and Jason Fincher. That contest was known around the courthouse as “The Alphabet Race” because the candidates were not generally well known, and many voters were therefore cast in favor of the first name on the ballot, which happened to be Brown’s. She came in first place in the General Election, but lost to Fincher in the runoff. Lake received only 27 percent of the vote in the General Election.

SICK BAY: Former Congressman Fletcher Thompson of east Cobb was to undergo gall bladder surgery Monday morning after falling ill while attending Saturday’s anti-Cobb EMC petition drive at East Cobb Park.

***


GOOD THINGS ARE WORTH WAITING FOR: You’ll recall that Gov. Nathan Deal’s inaugural festivities, organized by Tricia Pridemore of Cobb, were severely disrupted by January’s very un-Georgia-like heavy snow and ice. The weather was so bad that the swearing-in was moved inside the Capitol and the inaugural ball was “cancelled.” Now it appears the operative word should have been “postponed.” Around Town has learned that the ball is likely going to take place May 2 at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

***


WIT CARSON OF SMYRNA, a lover of small children and small animals and a fixture at the North Georgia State Fair in south Cobb for decades, passed away early on Sunday. Services are at 11 a.m. today at First Presbyterian Church in Marietta.

Carson operated the fair’s petting zoo, which annually features a menagerie big enough to fill a sprawling circus tent at the fair. Carson started the program in the mid-1980s and it now draws around 10,000 schoolchildren a year.

He was the longest-serving volunteer at the Fair, according to Fair spokeswoman Melissa Kromer. He had been involved there since 1932 when at age 11 he entered cattle at the livestock show at the fair. That was an era when many of the Fair’s offerings were more rural-oriented, such as livestock-judging contests.

Carson was the father of former west Cobb Commissioner Wit Carson.
Comments
(11)
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Mortified KSUer
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March 22, 2011
"Tom"foolery, indeed. One of the Toms--the one who's been at KSU forever, and is among the highest paid faculty members in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences--is going to make us all look like pompous a---- on Thursday. The other Tom, who doesn't even hold a Ph.D., made us look foolish, as well. Local Yokel and Mayrettan are correct in their comments, but please, don't everyone judge KSU solely on the antics of these tom cats.
Cobb=Hypocrisy
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March 22, 2011
Chandler isn't stupid. He didn't want to deal with the falsity of Cobb County whiners for the duration of his tenure. Who could blame him? In Cobb, far too many believe that "freedom" applies only to a few individuals and not to anyone around them. When this state (and the plasticity of this county in particular) perhaps KSU and other institutions will have a shot at competing on a national level.
CobbConservative
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March 22, 2011
OMIPS, the kid you debated was an idiot. Just because he/she doesn't know how to process ideas doesn't mean that Americans should hide from them or worse, censor them.

I take issue with your interpretation of 60s anti-war activism as an example of ideas gone bad. Throughout history, young adults have challenged the status quo. It so happened that hippie's of the 60s associated with communism because they sympathized with Ho Chi Minh and took issue with the domino theory as the raison d'être for putting American soldiers' lives on the line. That's really about it. How many of those hippies are now baby boomers living high earning, capitalistic lives? I'd guess a far sight more than are living in egalitarian communes.
OMIPS
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March 22, 2011
@CobbConservative - The foundation of America is "Freedom" and that includes the "freedom" to think independently. And, this independent "freedom" provides each of us the opportunity to research, read, study, compare, contrast and to think critically about society, politics, education, economics and just about any topic that we can imagine. Freedom is power and like others sources of power it must be used responsibly.

Human nature tells us that the grass is greener on the other side of fence. Many people in the pursuit of learning have looked on the other side fence at socialism, marxism, and communism. Concurrently, they've applied critical thinking to capitalism and democracy and they've come to the conclusion that marxism (and it's derivatives) is the superior ideology because it solves the social problem of inequality. It evens things out. It offers structure and security. It seems logical. It seems utopian. But the big problem is that to reach this utopian state you have to give up "freedom" and frankly, there are many of us that are not ready to give up our "freedom" for equality, structure, and security. There are many of us that are not ready to live in a utopian state, particularly if we have to give up our "freedom".

The 1960s taught us that there are people who are working to take away our "freedom". Furthermore, the 1960s showed us that young, impressionable, irresponsible students can be swayed to dissent, activism and radicalism. That they can be swayed to give up their "freedom" for dreams of a utopian society. This Chandler affair shows us that that these folks are still among and they're alive and active.

Recently I got into a debate with a young college student. He told me that he hated "freedom" because "freedom" is evil.

Local Yokel
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March 22, 2011
That should have been "when you find yourselves in one, stopp digging!"
Local Yokel
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March 22, 2011
Boy, for a bunch of smart folks, the KSU faculty sure is being dumb by violating the 1st rule of holes - stop digging! The MDJ doesn't even have to play rope-a-dope to keep this story rolling. The dopes are roping themselves!
Factsman
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March 22, 2011
FYI, Dr. Papp's birthday is July 11. At least get your facts right!
Rube1
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March 22, 2011
Mayrettan has an excellent question and I hope Dr. Keene & Co. will answer it at the forum. But Chandler is a "S-P-O-R-T" historian. Perhaps his alma mater, Stanford, doesn't cover the Nazis, Soviets, Mongol hordes, or Carthaginians in the Sport History Department.
CobbConservative
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March 22, 2011
Right on Truth! State Universities should only teach ideas that are in line with their communities. Exposing people to different…or even liberal ideas is dangerous and creates a society of people who might think independently. WE DON’T NEED THAT IN GEORGIA! Please parents, don’t let your kids go to a State University without first ensuring that the University will only teach your kids ideas that reinforce what you already believe to be true. Ignorance after all, is bliss.
Mayrettan
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March 22, 2011
Around Town is right - KSU needs this whole kerfuffle to die down. Unfortunately, one reason academics go into the academy is that they don't know when to shut up. And so they story will go on and the MDJ's circulation will continue to benefit. (I imagine their traffic from KSU servers has skyrocketed!)

Apparently, the riffraff need a lecture from their betters on academic freedom and so our mighty philospher-kings from the AAUP will descend from on high to deign to instruct us. I do so hope they explain, slowly and in simple terms with small words so we rubes can understand, why calling America "the most violent nation-state in history" does not betray a profound ignorance of the history in which Dr. Chandler is supposedly trained.
TRUTH HURTS
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March 22, 2011
LIBERAL STATE UNIVERSITY NEEDS TO GO!
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