Responses to 'Hardly Presidential' and 'Chasing the president'

Editor’s note: The following letters are in reaction to the “Hardly presidential” editorial and the “Chasing the president” column, originally published Monday, Sept. 27. For more coverage and commentary, visit the CM Life Voices Blog at

I just wanted to give a big kudos to your entire editorial staff for handling the President Ross situation professionally and refusing to “go silently into the night.”

We, the students of this institution, are the people Ross is most accountable to. Without us, there would be no Central Michigan University. Somewhere along the way, he lost sight of that and that is truly unfortunate.

Thank you, though, for reminding Ross of his initial promises and us students of how a committed university president should regard us — his most important audience.

Melissa Lee

Bellaire senior

I opened CM Life Monday morning to discover a full page of articles dedicated to President Ross: A reprint of an editorial “Priority Check: CMU President George Ross Must Maintain Dedication,” an article “Chasing the President” and a new editorial “Hardly Presidential.” Whoa, I thought, what’s he done to draw such rebukes from CM Life?

The rebukes stem from a Sept. 13th editorial that complained that Ross accepted a position on a board of directors of a private business and this was an occasion to remind Ross that he “must maintain dedication” to CMU. Certainly, we would all agree that he must do so, but the editorial suggests he isn’t doing that.

Your evidence? He’s met with no students for lunch and he promised to do so. You did acknowledge that he had held two forums with students and the public, but for some reason, in your judgment, that didn’t count. Since he only arrived in March, and you wrote this Sept. 13, it means that he held two open forums in about 12 weeks of residence at CMU excluding summer.

That sounds pretty good to me. To your credit, you also acknowledged that it’s common for university presidents to serve on boards of directors, but that didn’t seem to figure in your suspicions about his “dedication” either.

Then, in Monday’s articles on the same page, you acknowledge that you were mistaken about Ross’ interaction with students (he had met with some and eaten with some) and yet, you write that you still “stand by the editorial and the spirit of the point it was making.” You then complain that Ross or University Communications should have contacted you right away about the errors instead of “scolding” you for them publicly and you further complain that Ross and staff had not followed “protocols” and were “completely inappropriate” in not being more available to you.

The logic of the whole page of articles is that:

1) Although your accusations about Ross were based on inaccurate data, you are standing by them.

2) Ross responded “inappropriately” to the inaccurate accusations that you published and so you are justified in complaining further.

There are some problems here: You did not include your sincere apology for your error, you refused to acknowledge that your error undermined the point you were making (logically inaccurate and professionally inappropriate), the issue of contention -— which you presented inaccurately — lacks the gravity you lend it and your treatment of it is overwrought and manipulative — for example, one editor began his article stating: “It may be too accusative to say ... President Ross yelled in my face.”  So did he yell at you, or didn’t he? My guess is that Ross didn’t yell at the editor but this lead line opens the possibility and arouses anger against Ross in the reader.

I don’t know Ross or what kind of president he will be. It’s too soon to tell. For all of our sakes, I hope he’s a good one. A great one.

I also don’t know what prompts this “Hardly Journalistic” antagonism toward him but I do know that I’ve gotten the impression that you’re out to get him and I’ll be wary of what you have to say about him in the future. You’ll have to win me back. I hope to see you at the top of your journalistic game soon — and Ross at the top of his presidential game, too.

Merlyn Mowrey

Professor of Philosophy and Religion