In an article in yesterday’s edition of The Buffalo News, Christine Davis Mantai, director of media relations and website for SUNY Fredonia, said Professor Stephen Kershnar’s promotion “was not a reversal of the decision made on the previous application,” but “was a new decision made on a new application, which built a stronger case in the area of service.”
Originally, SUNY Fredonia President Dennis L. Hefner wrote that Kershnar should not be promoted because of his “deliberate and repeated misrepresentations of campus policies and procedures…to the media.”
Heaven forbid the university acknowledge its wrongdoing and take responsibility for its misstep. Instead, it maintains that Kershnar’s re-application for promotion provided administrators with sufficient impetus to award him a higher position, a view they obviously found insupportable by Kershnar’s original application materials, which included endorsements from his superiors and evidence of his scholarly achievements. There’s also no mention from Fredonia of the national media attention that ensued, including articles criticizing Hefner’s decisions appearing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and New York Post, among others.
As gratified as we are by the victory in Kershnar’s case, we are equally skeptical of these claims that Kershnar’s promotion was solely the result of his newly submitted application that established him as a candidate worthy of advancement. It’s hard to believe the public outcry in support of Kershnar had nothing to do with the quick amendment to Hefner’s previous position regarding the promotion.
But whatever the case, FIRE delighted that Professor Kershnar was not deprived of a position he deserved because of his published columns criticizing the university. We hope SUNY Fredonia will continue to uphold its professors’ right to freedom of expression in the future.