Gordon College Dismisses Claim Faculty Senate Resigned to Show Solidarity With LGBT Activist Professor

The A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel at Gordon College, a Christian academic institution located in Wenham, Massachusetts.
The A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel at Gordon College, a Christian academic institution located in Wenham, Massachusetts. | (Photo: Mark Spooner)

Gordon College has criticized reports implying that its entire faculty senate resigned as a show of solidarity with an LGBT activist professor who was denied a promotion, and its president has claimed that all faculty decisions made during his tenure have been in accordance with the school's guidelines.

Following the resignation of its entire faculty senate earlier this month, Gordon College has released a fact sheet regarding the recent promotion decisions made by the school's President, D. Michael Lindsay, and Provost, Janel Curry.

As reported last week, all seven members of the faculty senate at the small evangelical institution in Wenham, Massachusetts, issued a joint resignation letter at an April 5 faculty meeting that reportedly cited "divergent views" with the school's provost and president about the process of making faculty promotion decisions.

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Although the senators did not cite any specific case or staff member for their resignation from their senatorships, there was some speculation in the media that the senate's resignation was a result of assistant sociology professor Margaret DeWeese-Boyd being denied a promotion to full professor even though the senate unanimously approved the assistant professor's promotion.

DeWeese-Boyd was a vocal LGBT advocate and even held events to call for the "safety and inclusion" of LGBT students and staff at Gordon College. DeWeese-Boyd has since filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination claiming that she was discriminated against because of her work with the LGBT community.

Considering the media attention the college received after the faculty senate's resignation and the controversy surrounding the administration's failure to approve DeWeese-Boyd's promotion, the college's media relations department released a fact page on the situation in an attempt to "help put the matter in perspective" and "answer some of the questions that have arisen."

D. Michael Lindsay, president of Gordon College, a Christian school located in Wenham, Massachusetts.
D. Michael Lindsay, president of Gordon College, a Christian school located in Wenham, Massachusetts. | (Photo: Gordon College)

The college explained that the senate's resignation came after its members had finished most of their essential duties for the school year and noted that "three of the seven" were already scheduled to conclude their three-year terms this spring.

"It was not expected, though they did first inform Provost Curry a few hours prior to the meeting, and it's an unusual step for senior faculty members to take," the fact sheet reads.

"In their verbal statement to faculty colleagues, the chairperson affirmed the authority and decision-making role of the administration but said she felt the senators could not reconcile divergent views with the provost and president on the process and how final decisions are made, and could no longer be effective in their roles," the statement added.

The school also disputed reports that suggested the senators' resignations were a result of a "specific decision," "faculty member" or any of the "broader college policies."

"It's very important to understand the senate's statement did not reference any specific decision or faculty member, or anything about broader college policies, as some of the media stories (particularly The Boston Globe) have implied," the fact sheet states.

"We believe the decision was a consequence of frustration with a communication breakdown between the senate and senior administrators, and difference of opinion on the outcome of recent promotion decisions, which are based on standards concerning teaching, scholarship and service," the statement explains. "The letter read by the chair of the senate at the faculty meeting specifically reflected their frustration with the process of communication with the provost in this year's reviews, and it's clear they felt frustrated enough to decide a new group should serve in the fall."

The senators made clear that their resignation letters would be their only public comment on the matter.

Lindsay sent a message to all faculty after the April 5 meeting stating that the resignations were a result of a "misunderstanding by some members of the faculty senate from a conversation with the him earlier this spring," the fact sheet states.

Additionally, Lindsay affirmed in the message that "100 percent of the faculty evaluations made or approved throughout his time at Gordon have been based on assessments in accordance with the standards in the Administrative/Faculty Handbook."

"Both the president and the provost take these divergent views seriously. An ongoing process is already underway where both administration and faculty will focus on bridging the differences, finding ways to work together that are satisfactory for both," the fact sheet explains. "Much like any family that might have a disagreement, we strive to work together to resolve differences with grace, knowing that our greater mission at Gordon — in which each one of us here shares an important role that we feel privileged to fill on behalf of our students — is to honor Christ and serve the Lord."

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