Letters to the Editor
—Maurice Wright, Professor of Music Composition, Boyer College of Music and Dance
Professor of Music Composition, Boyer College of Music and Dance
November 4, 2008
Editor, Temple Faculty Herald
By conflating events, Professor Saul Axelrod misleads the reader in his letter to the Herald published in the October issue. He writes: “A second letter from Professor Wright rejected Professor [Roberta] Sloan’s plea and claimed that ‘there was unanimity among the faculty.’ Professor Wright did not reveal his sampling techniques, but I can attest to the fact that there is not unanimity among faculty.”
Let us recount the events to which he refers. After Temple declined the gift of $1,500,000 solicited by Professor Mahmoud Ayoub from the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT) to endow a chair in Islamic Studies, the editor of the Herald sent an e-mail message to all members of the faculty, soliciting their comments. Two of us submitted opinion pieces, which appeared in the February issue.
Professor Sloan’s letter, to which Axelrod refers, published in the March issue of the Herald, asserts: “the views of individual faculty that were selected to be highlighted, did not fully encompass the varying views amongst faculty on this particular issue.” Furthermore, the minutes of the Faculty Senate Steering Committee meeting of February 19 indicate that she criticized the Herald again, suggesting that its coverage was “not unbiased.” My letter of April 15, merely notes that the two of us who replied to Herald’s initial call for comments were both critical of Temple’s decision, and thus charges of bias were unfounded. No sampling was involved.
In the same letter, Axelrod continues: “A few years ago I attended a talk on the Temple campus from left-winger Noam Chomsky. The speaker was neither picketed nor harassed.” Of this lecture, the Philadelphia Inquirer (4/15/99) announced:
Linguist Noam Chomsky will present a lecture, ``Language and Mind: Current Thoughts on Ancient Problems,'' at Temple University from 1:30 to 3 p.m. April 28.
Chomsky's lecture, in Walk Auditorium, is sponsored by Temple's computer and information sciences department and the Franklin Institute Science Museum. The institute will present Chomsky with the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science on April 29.
I also attended the standing-room-only lecture. Who would have picketed a speech about linguistics?
Clearly IIIT’s offer of substantial support for Islamic Studies at Temple has provoked a deep reaction among some members of the university community—a reaction that, however heartfelt, seems to operate outside the constraints of logic. I continue to call on the Faculty Senate to investigate the decision to reject IIIT’s offer to endow a chair of Islamic Studies in the Department of Religion.
Boyer College of Music and Dance