This morning, the email below from Chancellor Dan Jones went out to a large number of Ole Miss folks.
I am ambivalent about it. I agree with what he says about anonymous attacks and threats. On the other hand, there is no doubt that Pete Boone’s position makes him a public figure in Mississippi. Just in the sense of operating an enterprise with a budget of the size of the athletic department, he operates one of the largest public institutions in North Mississippi. There is obviously a place for public debate about how that job is being performed. The letter closes by saying:
I regularly review the performance of all those who report to me, including Mr. Boone. But I cannot and will not engage in any sort of review in response to a public campaign to force his removal.
A debate worthy of attention is about who we are as a university family. Will we remain civil, reasonable people?
I agree that any discussion about this should be civil and should not involve improper threats (if by “threats” the email means language like, “Improve things or I will withdraw support,” that is not an improper threat). I don’t like how ugly this sort of discussion gets. But I don’t agree with apparent implications in this email that public debate about this public institution is somehow wrong, and I hope it doesn’t mean that the response is to dig in deeper rather than consider what might need to be changed.
The full email is below the fold.
Dear Ole Miss Family,
The Ole Miss Creed begins: “The University of Mississippi is a community of learning dedicated to nurturing excellence in intellectual inquiry and personal character in an open and diverse environment. As a voluntary member of this community, I believe in respect for the dignity of each person; I believe in fairness and civility.”
Continue reading Chancellor Jones writes and asks for civility but possibly asks to end debate