Two fired after St. Mary's College president says of freshman: "You just have to drown the bunnies."
A secret plan to spot freshmen likely to fail at a Catholic college has erupted into a huge scandal that has resulted in two school faculty getting fired.
President Simon Newman of St. Mary’s University in Maryland also apparently likened the freshmen to baby rabbits that should be killed — comments that the Mountain Echo student newspaper aired publicly resulting in the controversy, according to an Associated Press report.
Newman, who is a former financial industry executive hired in 2014, reportedly said: “This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads.”
Newman admitted to the comments, saying they were insensitive and that he apologizes. He said he made them in an informal setting with an assistant professor because he didn’t like that many faculty members were opposed to his plan.
Despite the comments, Newman got a vote of confidence from the unviversity’s board of trustees. The board said it conducted an investigation that found that some faculty had deliberately mischaracterized the freshman program in order to get Newman out of the university. In response to the controversy, Newman said he had requested and received the resignation of David Rehm as provost, who will stay on as faculty. Rehm had sent emails to Newman criticizing the student-retention plan, the Mountain Echo had reported.
Meanwhile, professors Edward Egan and Thane Naberhaus were fired.
Newman defended the student-retention plan as a way to identify students in the first six weeks who need help adjusting to college life and are at risk of failure.