Update: Open Letter to Wheaton Selection Committee

Last week I posted about an open letter we were gathering signatures for regarding Wheaton’s hiring of it’s next college president. This past Sunday, I delivered (via email) an open letter signed by 350 Wheaton alumni. So far I’ve received a brief email acknowledging they’ve received the letter:

Mr. Fine — thank you for sending this official listing to the Presidential Selection Committee with the information on the “signers” of the open letter.  The information has been forwarded to the Presidential Selection Committee for their review.
We appreciate your interest and especially your continued prayers for this very important process.
Presidential Selection Committee
Wheaton College
In the mean time, Christianity Today decided to cover the story on one of their blogs. Here’s a snippet,

Mimi Barnard, CCCU’s vice president for professional development and research, provided Her.meneutics more recent statistics. As of fall 2008, the gender ratio among all senior administrators at CCCU schools was 86 percent male, 14 percent female, compared with a 55/45 percent ratio among all U.S. colleges and universities.

Further, 5 percent of CCCU schools are now led by women…
The Wheaton Record (the school’s print paper) will also be covering the story this Friday. I’ll try and post that article here as well. What I’ve really enjoyed seeing is the conversation this has created and more specifically some of the great thoughts I’ve heard from others. Here is one comment from the blog post above that I found interesting:

The sad fallacy of this article is that the school must trade off excellence in favor of diversity. That’s just nonsense. Even for a position as prestigious as president of Wheaton College, there will be more than a few candidates who are fully qualified for the position. Each will bring a couple of unique “extras” to the table. One’s area of scholarship might be a more currently “hot” topic. One might have exceptional skills in fundraising at a time when that is paramount. One might have exceptional interpersonal skills at a time when faculty reorganization is paramount. One might bring gender or ethnic diversity at a time when that has been lacking.

These things should be considered as bonus points in favor of one candidate or another and one bonus point may be more important one year than another. Given the current abysmal diversity statistics, it seems reasonable that on this go-round, seing gender or ethnic diversity (among candidates who are ALL fully qualified) as a more important bonus does not seem to be any more immoral or unfair than favoring an exceptional fundraiser at another time.

The view that diversity should NEVER be considered is to completely devalue the different voices that non-white-male people bring to any enterprise. Of course white men can teach diversity, but there is a qualitative difference for the student body when the faculty actually reflect what is taught about the worth of ALL of God’s children.

The letter is still open for signing. Regardless of what happens with the presidential selection, this letter and signers will stand as an accountability check on the process and a statement of our collective commitments and values.

4 thoughts on “Update: Open Letter to Wheaton Selection Committee”

  1. Thanks for the update Ariah. And thanks to the person who made the comment you posted above. I think it is exceptionally well stated. I think I saw something on facebook about the fact that all current candidates are white male. Is that verified?

  2. Sure. I don't know how much help I'll be, but sure.

    I think one thing that should still be done in Wheaton's case is that if somebody knows of women or minority candidates that meet the listed requirements they should nominate them now. I am not even connected with people that would be qualified for the position, but I'm assuming that professors and CCCU administration would.

  3. I think it's telling that so many people have been picking up this story. It shows that people care a lot about diversity, and I think Wheaton would do well to listen. I was not surprised, but still saddened, but the ratio or men to women in CCCU schools. In the meantime, I've been trying to think of women or minorities that would want to have the job of president of Wheaton, and I keep drawing blanks…

    1. The sad thing is how telling the disparity between secular and CCCU schools are in their gender ratios. It's a statement that needs thought and explanation in my mind.
      I haven't a clue who the higher-ups in Christian academia are, but I'm hoping someone knows someone…

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