Monday, November 23, 2009

Barone Ad Prompts Policy Review at MVNU

The day of the school board election Mount Vernon Nazarene University Provost Henry Spaulding received a “few hot calls from the community” regarding an ad for candidate Paula Barone. The ad made a close connection between the university and an endorsement of Barone’s candidacy by a dean at the school.

(See previous coverage: “MVNU Dean Endorsed Paula Barone.” )

MVNU currently has no policy that addresses the issue of faculty or staff, in their official capacity, endorsing political candidates. “We are silent on that, that’s a hole in our personnel policies,” Spaulding said.

Spaulding said that he has no basis to reprimand Dean Sonja Smith, who endorsed Barone, because of the lack of policy addressing this issue.

As Spaulding understands the situation, he said that Smith was not aware that her endorsement was going to be used in a print ad.

Had Smith brought a proof copy of the ad to him, and asked about its appropriateness, Spaulding said he would have told her that the ad was not OK.

“She supports her, she is a friend with her, knows her,” Spaulding said. “As a private citizen she can endorse who she wants to, but the challenge of course is that [MVNU] doesn’t endorse candidates and [because of the ad] it appears that we do. So that is an issue we’ve got to deal with.”

The new policy has yet to be written, but Spaulding explained what he envisions it will state. “The policy will be that a professor or administrator at this university is prohibited from endorsing any candidate in the name of the institution or writing letters to the editor in support of candidates on [MVNU] letterhead,” Spaulding said.

In a situation where an employee of MVNU is running for political office, it would be OK to mention where they work as background information. “If they run for political office and they happen to, on a resume, mention where they work I wouldn’t have a problem with that,” Spaulding said.

When it comes to speaking about issues, it can be appropriate for a professor to be identified with the university, Spaulding said. An example he gave was if a professor was on Meet the Press and the host referred to the professor as being from the university.

Spaulding said that it is situations like the Barone ad that lead to the creation of new policy. “That’s how policies are born—to address issues,” Spaulding said. writer Sam Stickle is a student at MVNU. This website is not affiliated with the university.

1 comment:

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