WASHINGTON, DC (December 15, 2008)—Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, issued the following statement concerning the continuing controversy over Bob Kerrey, president of the New School in New York City:
When the trustees of the New School hired Bob Kerrey as president, they directed him to increase the university’s visibility and to strengthen its financial position. He has succeeded on both counts. During his presidency, enrollment has increased by more than a third, the number of full-time faculty has doubled, as has the endowment, and the university graduated its largest class ever last May. Kerrey has also shown a strong commitment to intellectual pluralism by ensuring students are exposed to a diversity of viewpoints on campus.
As the full-time faculty prepare to pass judgment on Kerrey’s leadership this week, ACTA notes with concern media reports that indicate that the campaign against the president is driven in part by ideological objections to his personal political views and complaints that he lacks a Ph.D. These, it must be said unequivocally, are not proper reasons to depose (or to choose) a president, and they should be condemned by all those who care about higher education.
It seems clear Kerrey is under attack not because he has failed to do what he was hired to, but rather because he is—quite unapologetically—a strong leader who has striven to improve and reform his institution. This is precisely the kind of president trustees should select, empower, and—in the tough times—defend. ACTA applauds the New School board for doing just that.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is an independent non-profit dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality and accountability. Since its founding in 1995, ACTA has counseled boards, educated the public and published reports about such issues as good governance, historical literacy, core curricula, the free exchange of ideas and accreditation in higher education.