Monday, July 20, 2020

Nursing School Dean is fired after sending an email that said "EVERYONE'S LIFE MATTERS": Does McCarthyism stalk the campus at University of Massachusetts-Lowell?

Leslie Neal-Boylan, Dean of the Solomont School of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, was fired after writing "EVERYONE'S LIFE MATTERS" in an email message to the nursing school community.

Why was she fired? UMass Lowell won't say. It released this statement, drafted in the neo-Stalinist style of academia, that said this:

Leslie Neal-Boylan's employment at UMass Lowell ended on June 19, after she was informed she would no longer serve as dean of the Solomon School of Nursing. She had been in that role for 10 months. Although a tenured full faculty member she declined to join the nursing faculty. As with all such employment decisions, it was made in the best interests of the university and its students. Although we are not able to discuss specifics of a personnel matter, it would be incorrect to assume any statement by Dr. Neal-Boyland was the cause of that decision.
Dean Neal-Boylan apparently believes she was fired over her email message. In a letter obtained by Campus Reform that Neal-Boylan wrote to Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney and Provost Julie Nash, she reportedly said:
It seems clear that College Dean [Shortie] McKinney used my email regarding Black Lives Matter (BLM) as rationale to fire me. This is attributable to one phrase in my initial email that otherwise was very clearly a message to NOT discriminate against anyone.
So what did Dean Neal-Boylan's email say?  Merely this:
Dean SSON Comunity, I am writing to express my concern and condemnation of the recent (and past) acts of violence against people of color. Recent events recall a tragic history of racism and bias that continue to thrive in this country. I despair of our future as a nation if we do not stand up against violence against anyone. BLACK LIVES MATTER, but also, EVERYONE'S LIfe MATTERS. 
Some readers were offended by Dean Neal-Boylan's email, which someone posted on twitter. One person wrote that the Dean's "statement that 'all lives matter' was uncalled for and shows the narrow-minded people in lead[ership] positions." Shortly after Neal-Boylan sent the email message, she was fired.

This incident is reminiscent of McCarthyism in the 1950s when people in the entertainment community were blacklisted because they ran afoul of Senator Joseph McCarthy's paranoid, anti-communist agenda. Watch the movie The Front or Trumbo if you want to learn more about that shameful period in our national history.

Academia in the United States is now the home of a virulent strain of neo-McCarthyism. No one's job is safe. One false step, one carelessly expressed message, one unpopular personal viewpoint--and your university career may be ruined. 

So if you are a professor or a college administrator and you want to keep your job, my advice to you is: Keep your mouth shut.

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