Tuesday, May 30, 2006

SHAKEUP AT FARRIS U. PATRICK HENRY COLLEGE
Or, No One Expects the Farris Inquisition!

Having documented the past abuses of Patrick Henry College (here and here) it comes as no surprise to Theosebes that Patrick Henry College has suffered a meltdown. Probably no one will be shocked to find out that President Michael P. Farris and his heretic-under-every-rock ways seem to be the cause:
A contentious debate at Patrick Henry College that began over theological differences, the interpretation of Scripture, and academic freedom has prompted 5 of the school's 16 full-time faculty members to announce they will not be returning to the conservative, Christian college next year. The announcements bring the total number of departing professors to nine in the past year, not including two adjuncts, as well as four senior executives who left in the past 18 months, departing professors say.

In the wake of the departures, the school announced significant changes to the school's executive staff. Effective July 1, Graham Walker, previously vice president for academic affairs and dean of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, will replace Farris as president, while Farris will assume the college's chancellor position. Gene Edward Veith, currently the cultural editor of World Magazine and a former English professor, will also begin that day as the college's new academic dean.

I really like the idea of Patrick Henry College. But the entire enterprise appears to have been little more than an ego trip for its founder and (now past) President. He apparently sought to run the place through arbitrary fiat:
"We were brought here on false pretenses," said David Noe, assistant professor of classics who has taught at Patrick Henry since its founding. "We are leaving due to a long train of abuses by Farris in violating both academic freedom and due process, as well as many other issues relating to Farris's running of the college."

Departing professors also cite Farris's treatment of government instructor Erik Root and his March firing of Robert Stacey, the chairman of the college's department of government, as additional reasons that confirmed their decisions to leave the 350-student college.

Noe, Root, and rhetoric and theology professor Todd Bates agreed to go public with Christianity Today earlier this month, they said, after Farris repeatedly denied their requests to respond to accusations that beliefs they had expressed were biblically unsound. "Farris said that we threatened the college's fidelity to its mission and vision," said Noe. "He spoke to the press, but told us we couldn't."

Read the article, but it ain't pretty.

Perhaps the college actually can begin working toward under its mission and realize the promise it has shown.

3 comments:

Jeff said...

I dunno. If I were under the impression my child was receiving a "Christian education" and a teacher were trying to teach my child that Augustine was a "saint," that Calvinism is okay, or used familiar situation ethic games, I'd probably be upset about it.

Farris' problem again appears to be that he's torn between eccumenicalism and promoting his own beliefs. Try to hold onto both and you'll be torn apart.

Alan said...

Farris's problem is his dictatorial style and arbitrary decision making. If you followed the earlier situation (linked in the post) he came down hard on a young man on staff (not teaching) who believed in baptism for the remission of sins.

I think if one is going to get anything called a higher education you must be exposed to other ideas, including situation ethics. The benefits of the 'Christian' environment should be to supply the right answers to these problems. It's good for the students to struggle with the problem itself, though.

Anonymous said...

This is all very fishy.

Not sure what kind of "education" students at PHC are getting if Augustine and Calvin are off limits. Are secular writers like Aristotle, Shakespeare, and Jefferson okay? Christian educators should not shy away from engagement with significant thinkers.

Further, I really don't understand this complaint from the article: "Other professors and students said Farris has repeatedly disparaged Calvinist theology."

It was my understanding that PHC was founded as a Calvinist institution. The college's statement of faith says: "Man is by nature sinful and is inherently in need of salvation, which is exclusively found by faith alone in Jesus Christ and His shed blood." http://www.phc.edu/about/default.asp#StatementofFaith

Sounds like the real problem is Farris's ego and his complete inablity to deal in a collegial manner with those who may disagree with him. Perhaps he'd get along well with the president of the University of the Cumberlands?

SB