Just to point out the obvious, when a letter like this one, distributed to the members of the Medieval Academy Friday, is disseminated so quickly after the annual meeting (where the elected officers convene to discuss governance), then its language of "sad" report and directors "tendering their resignations" for a "sudden regrettable departure" is not to be taken at face value. Here is the letter from President Richard Unger to the members of the Medieval Academy in full:
Sadly I must report that Eileen Gardiner and Ron Musto have tendered their resignation as Executive Director of the Medieval Academy, effective Friday, 19 April. Their sudden departure is regrettable but I am sure all of members of the Academy join me in wishing both of them the best of luck in the future. The three presidential officers jointly and with the support of the Executive Committee and the Council are working to ease the transition to new personnel in the office in Cambridge, MA. Any delays in actions of or responses from the office should be temporary and patience in coming days will be appreciated.
Richard W. Unger
President, Medieval Academy of America
I am disappointed by this communication, which strikes me as carefully worded administrative speech that withholds a truth rather than conveys one. Eileen Gardiner and Ron Musto were bringing to Medieval Academy much needed changes, especially in the wake of the Arizona fiasco. They were in fact making the Academy an organization to which I wanted to belong. I have been a member of the MAA since I was a graduate student, resigned after the Arizona decision, rejoined after the appointment of Gardiner and Musto, and now find I may be regretting the vote of confidence I gave to a group that is supposed to represent me but keeps acting in ways that fail. I do not want to receive disingenuous letters like the one I just got; I want the truth of why such a vast change unfolded so quickly, without the wide consultation of the membership into what must be issues at the core of the MAA's identity.
I wish our elected officials had communicated more openly with those they are supposed to represent before and after precipitating what appears to be (from my vantage at least) either a sudden purge or a blunt refusal to work further with the changes being enacted by the current executive directors. I hope that I am completely wrong. I invite Richard W. Unger or any other member of the governance structure of the MAA to clarify the situation behind the dismissal of Gardiner and Musto. As a member of the MAA, I would like to know why this action was taken so swiftly and what the actual context for the release of the Executive Directors from their office might have been.