Just when you thought it was done, annarbor.com has another Martin drinking (or not) scandal, “Roy Wilbanks: EMU ‘Regents had to protect’ university with Susan Martin letter.” This one has a few interesting additions, bits of information, and interviews. Some highlights (for me, at least):
Wilbanks declined an interview request, after offering a short, prepared statement last that concluded, “We will continue to move forward. And to that end, the chair is supportive of the president.”
However, in the emails obtained this week by AnnArbor.comthrough a Freedom of Information Act request, Wilbanks offered a little more insight. He wrote to EMU alumnus Len Capelli that if the EMU community “can stick together” the university “will get through this difficult time.”
Capelli emailed Wilbanks July 12 to express displeasure in the information being leaked to the media about the incident. The posting of the information on the EMU website followed a FOIA request by the Detroit Free Press.
“The Board of Regents has prided itself on transparency, and yet who leaked the information to the press has not been discussed,” Capelli wrote. “… Why was it released now, what good could this expose possibly do for the university?”
Wilbanks responded to Capelli and said he has “no idea who the source is.”
BTW, based on a quick google search, I think Capelli is another D.C. alum, so maybe he has a different take on the “drunken” (or not) “argument” (or whatever it was). Then there’s this:
In response to emails from AnnArbor.com, Wilbanks said all regents knew the letter would be going into Martin’s file; and he would not disclose information on “prior incidents” mentioned in the letter or the time frame during which a conversation about so-called prior incidents took place.
Once again, mum on these “prior incidents,” and once again, I am left wondering what he’s talking about. And again let me ask: can anyone actually recall something that happened at some kind of event that raised some eyebrows? Remember, you can post here anonymously….
Also our own Eric Brown is quoted at some length:
Alumnus and former president of the EMU Alumni Association Board of Directors Eric Brownwas part of the 2008 search committee that subsequently chose Martin to be president.
Brown said he was not notified of the president’s 2005 drunken driving arrest at Grand Valley State University.
“One of the things she stated in the initial release of emails is she spoke about transparency, but if that’s the case, she would have disclosed all of that during the interview session,” Brown said, referring to the 2005 arrest.
Brown said if he had known about Martin’s arrest, he would not have supported her selection.
He’s also concerned that the two presidents before Martin left their positions following controversy. Martin replaced John Fallon, who was fired in 2007 for assisting in the cover-up of student Laura Dickinson’s murder on the Ypsilanti campus.
“It’s embarrassing that we have another situation bringing a black mark to the university,” he said.
I actually agree with this: what I mean is if I had been on that search committee and only found out four years later about that drunk driving conviction, I’d be pretty pissed off too. I think the board, the head-hunting service, and whoever else knew about this when Martin was being interviewed in the first place should have disclosed this, just as they should have disclosed all potentially relevant information about all of the candidates. Now, it’s far too hypothetical for me to even guess if that means we would have hired one of the other candidates had we known about this, but I definitely see Brown’s point.
As for “another president bringing controversy:” that seems par for the course for most university presidents nowadays, I’m afraid. I don’t know what the average is nowadays, but it sure seems like the tradition a generation or so ago where you’d have someone be president for decades is long gone. Most seem to last about 5 years, and they either move on to another job or they leave or get fired as a result of some kind of disgrace, manufactured or otherwise.
The article also quotes several EMU folks who say mostly positive things about Martin. I agree a lot with Decky Alexander, who said:
…she finds the situation “strange.” She credits Martin for increased campus safety, infrastructure changes and renovations.
“She’s done several things to create a good team here,” Alexander said. “There is a lot to be said. She’s about the university. Find me somebody that doesn’t believe that. If you were here five years ago, it was totally different.”
A strange situation indeed.