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Professor criticizes Drake administration in essay

Drake biology and psychology professor Dr. Michael Renner distributed an essay in an email to select faculty members this week that alleges Drake University is in crisis.

Renner’s essay states that “Drake’s trajectory is so off course, and so poorly calibrated to contemporary challenges,” that the university is no longer living up to its mission statement and “has come unmoored from the principles and ideas that are supposed to guide our most important institutional decisions.”

Over seven pages, the essay, titled “Drake is Adrift,” lays out several issues that Renner believes demonstrates how the university has lost its way. He alleges the current university administration is not transparent in its decision making, it acts unilaterally and has even made changes to the faculty handbook without input from the faculty. 

Renner, who served as provost of the university from from 2009 to 2011, also alleges that administration has prioritized cutting costs over maintaining programs and courses that set Drake apart from other universities. 

“Yet many current attempts to control costs are having the unintended consequence of stripping away what makes a Drake experience distinctive,” Renner wrote. “No one questions that a university must mind and control its costs. Reducing all costs across the board, however, epitomizes the opposite of strategic thinking.”

While Renner never uses the names of any administration officials in his email, he concludes it by blaming the university president and his administration for leading the school in the wrong direction.

“The President and the people who he has surrounded himself have generated a litany of promises made but not kept, budgets not balanced, and excuses offered for failure to deliver,” the essay reads. “They do not seem able to keep Drake’s mission in the foreground. I do not know whether the current administration is capable of change, but as of this moment, our situation has all the hallmarks of a failed presidency.”

The TD did reach out to Dr. Renner and President Marty Martin for comment regarding the email, but both declined to comment. Provost Sue Mattison, however, said that “there are a multitude of statements within the document that are untrue or misleading”. 

The Times-Delphic will not publish any of the specific allegations in the email until it has verified the claims made by Renner. 

This story is currently developing.


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