With Malice and Forethought

So…a member of the Starr King cabal speaks. And while many replies are running through my head (mainly about how ratchety this situation is) , for this post I will concentrate on one portion of the cabal member’s statement.

Cabal member states:

Additionally, the release of the email hobbled the first chapter of Rev. McNatt’s presidency at Starr King. I would like to apologize to her. Coming into such a situation cannot have been easy for the Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt. I humbly beg her forgiveness for my part in any harm that has come to her, for which I am truly and profoundly sorry.

When the leaked information was leaked, it was done with a specific purpose; to imply that the chosen candidate, Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, was less qualified to become President of Starr King and was picked in spite of all available evidence. This was done with malice and forethought. This was done to make Rev. McNatt and Dr. Gabriella Lettini, who was asked for her honest opinions–as is done in every academic search process, look bad. This was done to make it seem as if the search process was fixed. This was done because members of this cabal thought that they were entitled to malign.

A little later in the statement, the cabal member points out the fact that their undergraduate education focused on social and racial justice. Yet earlier in the statement, cabal member states:

In the heat of outrage at what was perceived to be injustice, there was insufficient consideration of the implications this release might have for the new incoming president, or for the school.

How is this cognitive dissonance possible? How is it that nobody saw that by mischaracterizing the results, the implication was going to be that Rev. McNatt got the job over a “more qualified” person?

I know that with the releasing of this statement (and with the report of the Ad Hoc committee), many are saying that it’s time to move on. But how can things move forward as long as there is studious avoidance of the real issue?

The real issue being…the intentional leak of confidential documents was never about the process. It was about the result of the process. The cabal set out to imply that the Search Committee’s choice was “less qualified” for the job. They set out to imply that those who were asked to give their honest opinions were unnecessarily mean. They set out to malign the process.

I’m sure there were “trust” issues at Starr King. Every seminary has them. Heck, every school has them. Leaking confidential documents and mischaracterizing the results in order to imply that the incoming administration should not be there because they are “less qualified” is not how one handles those issues.

There is more that I could say, but it’s Scandal Thursday. So I’m going to prepare for tonight.



4 thoughts on “With Malice and Forethought

  1. Dear Ms. Hampton, I appreciate that you posted a response, as the public commentary on this has been mostly absent. If you will read the article in the UU world, posted on 2/14/15, you will note that the Rev. Dr. Susan Ritchie states that the things written about her by Dean Lettini, among others, were ‘overtly fallacious.’ I think that means they were lies. I have admitted my involvement, and humbly apologized. I have been hearing from a lot of people privately about this issue. If my part in the actions of last spring have caused you pain, I am sorry. I welcome a conversation with you about this.
    Edie Love

  2. Yes, someone was upset with the outcome. However, I think it is a stretch to call their motivation “malice.” If I had a peek into a job search and had good reason to think that the candidate I preferred had been sidelined by lies told about her, IMO I would be justified in speaking out about it. Nor do I think it is malicious to suggest that one candidate is more qualified than another. There were three finalists and not everyone agreed on which one was best for Starr King–that is not surprising, nor offensive.

    I say all of this as someone who has no reason whatsoever to doubt that Rosemary Bray McNatt was the most qualified person for the job. My delight that she is SKSM’s president does not translate into approval of your reasoning.

    • If those who were part of the cabal had said that all the candidates were well qualified, but they thought that what information they had pointed to somebody else better fitting the requirements, that would have been one thing. That’s not what happened here.

      What happened here was the implication that Rev. McNatt was less qualified AND that things were done to make her look better in spite of all evidence. Now…if my use of the word malice/malicious is strong, it was meant to be. This is a mess that didn’t need to be.

      It seems that those who were disappointed didn’t know how to separate their disappointment with the result with their belief that the system was rigged. I also believe that there is some ignorance as to how the academic executive search process works.

      I’m not particularly interested in (or seeking) anybody agreeing or approving of my reasoning. That wasn’t the purpose of this post. The purpose was to put out an alternative thought to the one that seems to be prevalent that the major issue was the withholding of the degrees and somehow the issue of the actual breech and its other fallout somehow didn’t matter.

      so that’s it for me.

      • Thanks. I don’t think either the withholding of the degrees or the breach are the most important issues facing the school, but I really appreciate your shining a light on a piece of the story that has been getting overlooked.

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