University harmed by leaders’ friendly fire

Our Word

What better way to harm the university’s reputation than to have its leaders publicly broadcast their distaste for one another?

Just days after Board of Trustees members voted out Roger Herrin as chairman 4-2 on Thursday, Herrin and BOT member Don Lowery claimed the removal was the president’s doing. The two also accused Poshard of weak leadership and asked the president to step down.Two days later, Poshard called a press conference to refute those claims.

Couldn’t this argument have been taken care of in another manner?

The university received widespread negative media attention in November with its first-ever faculty strike. During that time, Poshard was quoted as saying he would “bet (the strike) already affected enrollment.” Yet, Poshard thinks it’s appropriate to call a press conference because he and two board members refuse to get along. He must think SIU’s reputation couldn’t possibly be harmed by turning this rift into a childish “he-said, she-said” debate.

Maybe none of them realize this, but they are not candidates in the 2012 primary elections, a venue that thrives on pointless bickering and finger-pointing. Unlike presidential hopefuls who are seldom seen as role models, university leaders should be held accountable for setting a good example for students — especially if they expect these students to act with maturity.

Poshard used the press conference to make some serious claims against Gov. Pat Quinn’s staff — claims which have been backed up by three other board members but disputed by Herrin and Lowery. Poshard claims the governor’s staff tried bullying BOT members to resign or not attend the meeting if they didn’t intend to reelect Herrin as chairman.

Rather than responding to Poshard’s press conference in an appropriate manner,  Herrin called Poshard’s claims “bullshit” and said Poshard made up the statement to deflect attention from his own leadership flaws.

We at the Daily Egyptian understand these types of accusations should not be taken lightly, but presenting them in such a fashion is childish and distracting.  The public dispute made headlines the same day SIU hired a new basketball coach.

If university leaders want to avoid negative media coverage, don’t call a press conference. And, if Poshard is as invested in this university as he says he is, he wouldn’t have made such a selfish move by calling the press conference. He was watching out for his own back — and risked damaging the university’s reputation even further.

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