This week saw another ridiculously petty installment in the drama over the rights of faculty members at Idaho State University, where President/Emperor Arthur Vailas and Provost/Grand Vizier Barbara Adamcik have been waging a war against the Faculty Senate for more than a year. Beginning with Vailas’ suspension of the Faculty Senate in the wake of a vote of no confidence in Vailas and the previous provost, the administration of Idaho State has been spending its time attempting to hamstring its critics in increasingly ridiculous ways, most recently by denying the faculty senate-in-exile access to its usual university email listserv to discuss governance issues while using the same list to send out administration-approved items. (A federal court backed ISU’s right to do that, but it makes it no less lame that ISU chose to do that.)
But whenever you think the Potentates of Pocatello have dug down as low as they can go, they find a new one. This time, ISU fired emeritus professor Leonard Hitchcock from his job at the library (where he had volunteered for the last 5 years before being rewarded this year with the princely salary of 11 bucks an hour) after he wrote a column where he criticized Vailas for acting like a king rather than a university president—a comparison that, to my eye, anyway, sure seems apt. If I were getting a reputation for imperiousness, firing an emeritus professor who is basically doing the university a favor by working at bargain rates at the library when he called me out for my imperiousness would be pretty close to the bottom of the list of things I would consider to be a good idea. But, as Hitchcock says in his column, Vailas’ motto seems to be "L’Universite, c’est moi"—and as for the faculty, well, let them eat cake.