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Faculty to consider motion calling for Rose’s account of Brooks’s fellowship

October 25, 2019

The faculty will consider a motion at next Monday’s faculty meeting that would require President Clayton Rose to produce a written account of the process that led to Arthur Brooks’ appointment as the inaugural Joseph McKeen Visiting Fellow.

Brooks was the president of the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank based in Washington, D.C., from 2009 until July 2019.

If passed, the motion would require Rose to present the faculty with a report detailing how the College is financing Brooks’s visit, how and why he was selected as a visiting fellow and whether any members of faculty were involved in the decision to appoint him to that position. The motion also requires Rose to “provide any and all details relating to the involvement, financial or otherwise, of any organizations or interests other than Bowdoin College, at any stage or part of these processes.”

The motion, introduced at the last faculty meeting on October 7, did not specify a timeline for the production or release of the report.

Associate Professor of Classics and Chair of the Classics Department Robert Sobak introduced the motion.

“I’m trying to better understand why faculty were neither consulted on the decision to create the fellowship nor on the naming of Arthur Brooks as the inaugural fellow,” said Sobak in an email to the Orient. “Hopefully my motion not only results in more transparency on this particular issue, but also prompts genuine collaboration going forward.”

Several students and some alumni also reacted with confusion and even anger at Brooks’s appointment in April of this year.

Scott Hood, senior vice president for communications and public affairs, declined to comment on the motion.

Brooks will visit campus from November 7-9 to participate in a series of moderated discussions and workshops with students and faculty. He will return for a similar two-day event sometime during the spring semester.

Brooks last visited Bowdoin on October 2, 2017 to participate in a moderated discussion with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni. The event, called “Talking Face to Face When We Don’t See Eye to Eye,” was the second in a series of events planned by a committee convened by Rose and designed “to encourage intellectual diversity and thoughtful dialog,” according to an article on the College’s website. The discussion was moderated by Gary M. Pendy Sr. Professor of Social Science Jean Yarborough and received mixed reviews from students.


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  1. The OG Old Bear says:

    Your reporting—by omission—suggests that no students, faculty, or alumni are glad that Rose named Arthur Brooks to the new fellowship. Is that true? I doubt it.

  2. Alum says:

    So, they’re afraid of having a conservative on campus?

  3. Class of 2018 says:

    This is so great! Rose should have been clear in his reasoning from the beginning, and Professor Sobak’s goal of collaboration with the faculty in filling this position in the future seems like a very constructive one to me. Why we need to create a platform for more white voices on campus when there are so few for people of color is beyond me…

    • Concerned Alumna says:

      White men are STATISTICALLY more likely to be right-wing. We must demand that every time a white voice is employed by Bowdoin there be a transcript published of the conversation that led to the decision to hire.

    • Old Bear says:

      It’s more important to me to bring viewpoint diversity, new academic expertise, and social capital to Bowdoin than skin-color diversity. But if you must have a voice of a certain color, we have some good candidates to hold the fellowship next:

      Glenn Loury, economist at Brown
      John McWhorter, linguist at Columbia
      Walter E. Williams, economist at George Mason
      Roland G. Fryer Jr, economist at Harvard
      Claude Steele, psychologist at Stanford
      Danielle Allen, classicist at Harvard
      Stephen L. Carter, law at Yale
      Annette Gordon-Reed, law at Harvard
      Randall L. Kennedy, law at Harvard
      Cornel West, philosopher at Harvard
      William Julius Wilson, sociologist at Harvard

    • Bear Parent says:

      Why does the faculty need to have anything to do with whether or not Arthur Brooks is a fellow at Bowdoin?

  4. Young Old Bear says:

    The conservative mega-donors who bankroll the American Enterprise Institute are the same people responsible for promoting the narrative that there is some urgent lack of “intellectual diversity” on college campuses. There exists a cynical, well-coordinated, extremely well-financed campaign to pressure academic institutions into promoting the preferred views of right-wing billionaires. Bowdoin shouldn’t take the bait.


  5. T. A. Little says:

    I am curious. Does the faculty assembly have the authority to “require President Clayton Rose to produce a written account of the process that led to Arthur Brooks’ appointment as the inaugural Joseph McKeen Visiting Fellow.? If so, what is the source of that authority?

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