Skip to comments.Moore snub suspected reason for university's Phi Beta Kappa rejection
Posted on 03/02/2005 3:11:04 PM PST by nickcarraway
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- George Mason University professors said they're disappointed that the Phi Beta Kappa Society rejected their application to start a chapter on campus after the school rescinded a speaking invitation to "Fahrenheit 9/11" filmmaker Michael Moore.
After the 27,000-student school in Fairfax submitted its preliminary report in the application process to establish a chapter in the fall, the honor society's nominating committee learned that the state university canceled the liberal activist's appearance after conservative state legislators complained.
University President Alan Merten had said that Moore's appearance was canceled because his $35,000 speaking fee was too high for a public university, not because of Moore's political views. The cancellation of the event scheduled days before the presidential election made national news.
"A week later I received an inquiry about the process by which he was invited and uninvited," said Marion Deshmukh, an associate professor of history and art history who coordinated George Mason's application.
When Phi Beta Kappa issued a final rejection of George Mason's application in January, it expressed concerns about the Moore incident, Deshmukh said.
"In my opinion, the nominating committee saw it as political, academic freedom being impinged," she said. "They had these issues on faculty governance."
Phi Beta Kappa secretary John Churchill declined to comment, saying the selection process is confidential.
Faculty Senate Chairman James T. Bennett said that the university fumbled the Moore situation and should have honored its contract with the filmmaker even after Del. Richard H. Black, who holds one of the General Assembly's most conservative voting records, wrote Merten to complain.
"The university was saying, 'We canceled the appearance because the fee was too high,'" Bennett said. "Then why did we sign the contract to begin with?"
"You don't cave in to political pressure," said Bennett, an economics professor. "We had no problem with him coming until some people from Richmond spoke up."
Colleges seeking Phi Beta Kappa chapters undergo an extensive three-year review. Those making the initial cut are invited to turn in a more detailed report. Phi Beta Kappa officials then visit the campus and interview students and professors before making a final judgment.
During the previous cycle, which ended in 2003, George Mason was among 10 finalists but was turned down because Phi Beta Kappa officials had some concerns about disagreements between the university's Board of Visitors and faculty members over curriculum changes, Provost Peter Stearns said.
Stearns said the Phi Beta Kappa committee viewed the Moore situation in the context of the previous review, but said the latter disagreement was strictly related to the appropriate use of state money. Stearns said he agreed to the $35,000 fee, which could be covered by ticket sales. But he said Moore then stipulated that students shouldn't be charged to attend.
While George Mason's chances to establish a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the current cycle weren't assured, Deshmukh said that committee officials should have at least visited the campus before making its final decision.
Stearns said George Mason will apply again when the next review cycle begins in 2006.
"The reason one does this is because you have a commitment to liberal-arts education and a good group of students who deserve this award," he said.
What is it with these Churchills? That used be such a great name...
Who has paid that Tub-O-Lard $35K to spew his B.S. besides France?
He must get paid $10 per pound
Way too many universities have paid this idiot - I believe Central Michigan University was one of them. I wouldn't have a problem with it if they paid someone like Ann Coulter the same amount to present an opposing viewpoint, but Central used up nearly all of its speaker fees for the year having Michael the Idiot speak - makes me glad my kids didn't graduate from there.
If Phi Beta Kappa was truly interested in academic integrity, having Moore speak would be cause for rejection.
Phi Beta Kappa can bite the cheese! GMU is doing just fine withouth them. There is a reason why they call them "the George Mason Patriots".
"Phi Beta Kappa secretary John Churchill declined to comment, saying the selection process is confidential."
How convenient. Does anyone want to bet that they would never go out on a limb like this for Rush Limbaugh or better yet David Horowitz?
Is the relationship of this guy to Ward Churchill only ideological, or is it familial as well?
Churchill was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Southwestern (now Rhodes College), Memphis, where he earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy. He was selected as a Rhodes Scholar and earned his masters in the Final Honour School of Philosophy and Theology at the University of Oxford. Churchill earned his Ph.D. in philosophy at Yale, writing a dissertation on Wittgenstein and the philosophy of religion.
Prior to his selection as secretary of Phi Beta Kappa, Churchill was vice president for Academic Affairs and Dean of Hendrix College, Conway, Ark., where he served as that college's interim president as well.
Will they cancel Harvard's membership because Larry Summers was forced to apologize? Didn't think so.
about as impressive a record as my pet monkey's
If Phi Betta Kappa is so intelligent, why do they have such a hard time understanding George Mason's reason for not having Moore speak, i.e., they didn't want to pay the $35,000?
"There is a reason why they call them "the George Mason Patriots".
YAY! My daughter is a freshman there. She was definately planning to attend Moore's speech with some RIGHT minded friends. Luckily they didn't have to waste their time.
If my girl was Phi Betta Kappa material, I might be upset about this. And I am, in the abstract, but if this is what they based their decision on, well you are right, forget it. They've shown there is a BIG difference between "scholarship" and "brains".
As a middle-aged student at GMU, I can say that political considerations were not in play. We do indeed have Walter Williams and Donald Boudreaux at the Economics Dept. But the rest of the university is as Leftist as any. I take Merten at his word that financial considerations was the reason -- we are running short here and such an honorarium would be difficult to justify.
Posted under glass at the Public and International Affairs Dept. is a drawing depicting a pile of skulls and a quote by Ward Churchill explaining how the United States is the locus of evil on this Earth. On another Department-approved bulletin board is a picture of President Bush with the caption "stop him before he kills again."
There are no balancing posters depicting any opposing point of view.
And don't ask me to go in there and fight them on this. I am graduating with honors this May and will not do anything to jeopardize that.
What was it Burke said??
Oh; yeah: "All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing."
You must be a good man; for you are definitely doing nothin!
The first rule of combat is to avoid battle where there is no hope of victory and/or in circumstances where the price of victory is too high. Ever heard of a Pyrric victory?
The soon to be grad is trying to tell you something. Despite all protestations of academic freedom, the academic world is anything but free.
Not being in that student's position, and not having years of your life at risk (not to mention lots of money), it seems both uncalled for, and rather judgemental, on your part for you to call someone who tells you what is going on at GMU a wimp.
Who cares? Since when is Phi Beta Kappa the keeper of the flame?
GMU will be just fine without them.
Germany and England.
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