by J J Cohen
A day of meetings and teaching has prevented me from weighing on the second MAA letter regarding the resignation of Eileen Gardiner and Ron Musto as Executive Director. (Earlier posts here and here.)
I am happy that this letter was multiply authored, more carefully worded, and fuller in the information it offers. Its tone and moments of directness are also improvements. I do wish, though, that instead of referring readers back to the IHE article this second MAA missive conveyed more of what the actual resignation letter sent by Gardiner and Musto actually stated. I'd point out that their letter was circulated on an email listserv with more than a hundred recipients and has also been quietly transmitted from person to person. The resignation letter makes some cryptic, terse but serious statements about bullying, aggressive behavior, and the threat of regression to the MAA's previous state of crisis that ought to be explored (or at least considered) as a new executive director takes on the job.
I continue to believe that the release of the letter along with an official response are the best courses of action for the MAA at this point. Such a release and response would amount to an embrace of greater transparency, setting the course for how the MAA leaders will work with the membership who elected them in the future.
I am happy that they have released a fuller letter that is signed by multiple heads of MAA. However, I wish that they also were clear about what the vision and goals of MAA are (that Eileen and Ron were doing a good job pushing forward with), though again, as someone who has not rejoined, I don't know if they've done this in a previous iteration. I am still wondering what their main goals and vision are for Speculum, for Communication, for Inclusion and Community amongst medievalists. Do they have a goal for advocacy for Medieval Studies in any way? These are all still a mystery.
I second the motion. Or, I would, if members actual had a vote.
I thought this letter was even more weaselly than the first, since the first was just the standard "we ain't going to tell you nothing" screed. This one pretended to say something while carefully avoiding that.
Might we - who are not on the list server:-) - ask for a published copy of the full letter of resignation. This might be a matter of procedure or even "personal chemistry"; but it definitely pertains to the strategy of the future of the academy, thus it concerns us all...
Aren't Gardner & Musto the ones who need to release their letter?
Matt -- I think the release of the letter falls into HR territory. Unless it had initially been addressed to the membership of the MAA as well as the board, I don't know that it can be released without the permission of all parties. I think that Unger's letter implies his permission, but IANAL.
This whole controversy, as well as some crap I'm dealing with at work, have been a reminder to me that we should all read through the organizational documents of institutions to which we belong. To members, ex-members, and potential members of the MAA, I suggest that everyone read through the constitution, by-laws, etc. It's far more effective to voice concerns and complaints if they have more backing than moral, ethical, and professional indignation.
It's also the first step in making changes to said documents, which is usually the first step in changing organizational structures...
(apologies for those who already know how to suck eggs, but we often forget to RTFM)
How about this: we look to the future and demand a vision for advocating for what we do, which is teetering on the brink of extinction. Whatever happened is clearly 1) regrettable and 2) not something about which we'll ever know the full story. The more data we have, the better, but in any case, looking ahead is more imperative than looking back.
That last unknown is me. Sorry for technical incompetence.
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