Just when I thought I couldn’t be shocked any more by secular higher education, the news today shocked me anew.
A community college president in Iowa, Robert Paxton, was photographed on a party boat this summer pouring beer into one of his female student’s mouth.
The picture says it all (the president is in the top left corner) He resigned under pressure yesterday.
The whole story is remarkable – and the response of the board is even more remarkable. The action of all is beyond stupid, and without any moral structure.
But look at the REAL story beyond this president’s act:
- This did not become an issue for the president and the board until the photograph started to show up on the internet. Until then, the board had said about the incident, the President “had done nothing improper and the matter wasn’t deserving of the board’s attention.”
- President Paxton first defended the photograph, saying, “the keg shown was broken and wasn’t dispensing beer.”
- Binge drinking is the number one problem on college campuses and this president was participating and the board ignored it.
- They paid the president a $400,000 severance pay, when Paxton is the one who caused this by his actions – no grey areas in this situation.
- Robert Paxton had been in office 13 years, so you can’t even blame it on a “rookie mistake” as sometimes comes from new presidents who are anxious to “relate” to students.
- The president’s son had been arrested for drunk driving that very morning and was in the boat with him.
THEN, to top it all off, the quote from the board is beyond disbelief, suggesting there is no link between personal actions and an educational leader’s work responsibility.
The only reason the board could finally agree upon to let Paxton go was PUBLIC PERCEPTION!! That is just too remarkable to believe.
The thing we struggled with was whether his personal life was, you know, his,” he said. “I think we all thought that was true. On the other hand, his position — I guess what you do in your personal life does affect the public’s perception of what you do on the job.”
This isn’t an assembly line worker who handles “things” all day, but an educational leader shaping impressionable lives, and it must be a 24/7 responsibility. Those in higher education who don’t want that responsibility should get out, and find a different line of work.
As usual, living with a boundary free worldview creates pattern of improper behavior and doesn’t show itself only through a single incident. The news reports, “In 2002, Paxton was indicted on charges of felonious misconduct in office, falsification of public records and tampering with public records. The charges grew out of an investigation into student athletes being awarded false grades.”
I thought I’d seen it all in higher education, but this one is just remarkable.