Has any member of the Marquette Administration heard of “The Google”: Marquette Retracts offer to Lesbian dean candidate [UPDATED]

May 7, 2010


Father Wild addressed the Marquette Faculty tonight concerning the Administrations decision to withdraw the Arts and Sciences dean offer. Watch the video here.


The Marquette University Student Government has unsurprisingly decided to support Jodi O’Brien  by a vote of 16  in favor, and 6 opposed with 2 abstentions.

At least MUSG has 6 informed members that are smart enough to make a sound decision and not just act as a unintelligent reactionary voice.

MUSG also put out a press release. McAdams gives an overview of the meeting as well:

While our source characterized the vote as “support” for O’Brien, apress release from Student Government records only “a recommendation stating that university officials be more honest and transparent in their hiring rationale for future candidates.” Perhaps in context, this should be interpreted as support for O’Brien. At any rate, we’ll try to find out more information.

Of particular interest in the release from Student Government describing last night’s meeting is this:

Dr. L. Christopher Miller, vice president for student affairs, discussed issues regarding the release of Dr. Jodi O’Brien, former candidate for dean of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, with the MUSG senate on Thursday night. Dr. Miller encouraged senate members and all university students to attend a discussion forum to be held on Tuesday, May 11 at 5:30 p.m. in the AMU ballrooms.

“Pieces of scholarship were not reviewed when offered the position, then once reviewed were found to be in disagreement with Marquette values,” said Dr. Miller.

Dr. Miller also stressed that the release of Dr. O’Brien as a candidate was not due to discrimination: “It is not a part of who we are,” said Dr. Miller. “That is not the case.”

This statement from Miller is plausible, but consider how damning it is.

I wonder if ANY MU students who are protesting have bothered to read a single page of her scholarly work, even just the abstracts.

It’s this new fancy search engine. If you use it, you’ll find out thinks about a perspective College of Arts and Sciences dean:

Hat Tip goes to MU-Warrior (aka John McAdams) for getting on this first, but let’s review:

Jodi O’Brein, from Seattle University was offered the position of Dean of the Arts and Science’s at Marquette. She was one of 3 candidates, you can watch her forum here. Links to Jodi’s publications have since been removed from the Marquette Website, but here is a little bit about her: Jodi O’Brien (Ph.D., University of Washington) is Professor of Sociology at Seattle University. She teaches courses in social psychology, sexuality, inequality, and classical and contemporary theory. She writes and lectures on the cultural politics of transgressive identities and communities. Her other books include Everyday Inequalities (Basil Blackwell), Social Prisms: Reflections on Everyday Myths and Paradoxes (Pine Forge Press), and The Production of Reality: Essays and Readings on Social Interaction, Fourth Edition (Pine Forge Press).

No big deal right? Well, here are some of her key Publications:

O’Brien, Jodi. 2004.  “Seeking Normal? Considering Same Sex Marriage.”  Seattle Journal of Social Justice, Volume 2:459-474.

O’Brien, Jodi. 2005. “How Big is Your God? Queer Christian Social Movements.” Pp. 237-261 in Interdisciplinary Readings on Sex and Sexuality. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

O’Brien, Jodi. 2008. “Complicating Homophobia.” Sexualities. Vol.11:496-512.

O’Brien, Jodi. 2004. “Wrestling the Angel of Contradiction: Queer Christian Identities.” Culture and Religion, 5:179-202.

Her Lectures include:

2009.  “Queer Christianity.”  Women and Gender Studies Lecture Series.  University of Texas at Austin.

2006.  “Permissible Prejudice? Religion, Sexuality and Social Justice.”  Gonzaga University Public Lecture Series sponsored by the Faculty Senate. Spokane, Washington.

2005.  “Sexuality and Christianity.”  Workshop presentation for the Northwest Regional Covenant Network of Presbyterians Conference. Bellevue, WA.

2000.  “I Think, Therefore I’m Racist/Sexist.  A Theory of Prejudice.”  Department of Sociology,  SUNY-Geneseo. Geneseo, New York.

2000.  “Sex and Religion.”  Seattle First Baptist Church Lecture Series. Seattle, WA.

1999.  “Family Values and the Law:  Some Paradoxes.” Plenary Speaker. Annual Meetings of the Lavendar Law Association. Los Angeles, Californi

Jodi also has a few other publications that aren’t exactly… well…. Here, just read the titles:

1999. “Phone Sex, Fantasy and Disembodiment.” Review essay of The Fantasy Factory
(Amy Flowers). Sexualities,Vol 2:267-272.

1999. “Boundary Mavericks: Prostitution and Civil Rights.” Review essay of Live Sex Acts (Wendy Chapkis) and The Prostitution Prism (Gail Pheterson). SIGNS: Journal Of Women in Contemporary Culture, Volume 24:529-532.

You can check out the rest of her writings and Curriculum Vitae here. (non PDF option)

How does that even pass for research?

She’s also stirred up controversy over a transgender week at Seattle.

How can a seasoned Professor like McAdams even look upon this woman as a colleague? and she’s supposed to be qualified as a dean? There is no way she’d be good for Marquette.

McAdams commented saying:

An offer was extended to her, and she asked for an exceptionally long time to consider it. As of last Friday, the assumption among Marquette administrators was that she would take it.

The fact that she is a lesbian was not seen as a problem.

Then, sometime between late Friday and late in the day Tuesday, Father Wild intervened and rescinded the offer. What caused the decision was two articles of hers, published in the 1990s, that appeared to advocate gay marriage. Wild expressed the view that she would be too occupied in defending herself against charges that she wasn’t an appropriate dean in a Catholic university to be effective as a dean.

A key factor was the intervention of individuals outside the university. One is identified as a “prelate” (who is understood to have had a relatively minor role), and other individuals (or an individual) who had a more important role.

By sometime this past Tuesday, the offer was rescinded, and on Wednesday meetings with various Marquette administrators informed them of the decision.

Marquette released a full statement on the issue in their news briefs:

Marquette University has closed its search for the dean of the Klingler College of Arts & Sciences without identifying an acceptable candidate for permanent appointment. While three candidates visited campus and an offer was made to one individual, in the final analysis it became increasingly clear that no candidate was the ideal fit to represent the college at this time.

To be appointed as the Klingler College dean requires a unique combination of scholarly accomplishment, administrative experience, and the ability to represent our Catholic identity. The Search Committee had, in fact, forwarded two names to the provost for further consideration, in each case identifying issues for further discussion, as was its charge. Some of the concerns identified in the process should have had more careful scrutiny, and publications relating to Catholic mission and identity should have been more fully explored early in the process. While we did make an offer to one of the two finalists, in retrospect that was done prematurely without as much due diligence as was warranted. While this person has an excellent background, a record of achievement and a strong academic track record, it was decided after further analysis that this individual was not the person who could best fill this very important position.

There were certain oversights in the search process, and we regret that deeply. As a result of this search, the university will revise some aspects of the search process.

In the past decade, Marquette has made significant strides in the area of diversity, making the university a more inclusive place to learn and work. This personnel decision was not about sexual orientation. Marquette takes seriously its nondiscrimination statement and our Statement on Human Dignity and Diversity. We have on our faculty and staff individuals of various faiths, ages, ethnicity and sexual orientation. These differences help us to promote a culture of learning, appreciation and understanding.

Provost John Pauly will make an announcement regarding an interim dean in the near future and will work with the faculty and staff of the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as university leadership, as we move forward. There will be opportunities for us to discuss this as a campus community in the coming weeks.

In an interview with the Journal Sentinel Marquette said:

A university spokeswoman said the decision to withdraw an offer to hire Seattle University professor Jodi O’Brien wasn’t about her sexual orientation or the quality of her scholarship. It did have to do with some of O’Brien’s published writings “relating to Catholic mission and identity,” Marquette spokeswoman Mary Pat Pfeil said.

“This was a decision based on a totality of factors, specifically related to the fit for the candidate to the college,” she said in an interview.

In the end, the school did not find an “acceptable candidate for permanent appointment,” Pfeil said in a statement released Thursday afternoon by the university.

O’Brien could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Some of O’Brien’s works, which include a sociological study of vignettes of lesbian sex, might have raised sensitive hackles at a Marquette, a Jesuit school.

But several professors said they were concerned about Marquette’s academic freedom and questioned whether the university was questioning the topics of O’Brien’s published work rather than the quality.

Psychology professor Stephen Franzoi, who served on a search committee for the post, said faculty members forwarded two candidates to Marquette President Father Robert A. Wild and Provost John Pauly. In their recommendation, committee members said to not pick O’Brien if the university wouldn’t support her if her sexual orientation or her scholarship were criticized, Franzoi said.

McAdams also ran an email from, what he calls, a leftist, lesbian Philosophy Professor named Nancy Snow.

Good morning, everyone. As many of you know, I’ve been involved with discussions with Fr. Wild and Dr. Pauly over the last few days regarding the possible withdrawal of the offer to Jodi O’Brien. Dr. Pauly is clearly in favor of Dr. O’Brien. Fr. Wild believes he must withdraw the contract. Apparently, much of the issue centers on concerns that she will not be able to represent the Church’s position, and will need to spend an inordinate amount of time defending herself from detractors, thereby compromising her ability to perform her duties as Dean. Much of the controversy centers on publications she wrote in the late 1990’s. I’ve read both of these (available online) and find them unobjectionable pieces of sociological scholarship that contain vignettes of lesbian sex, that are then analyzed for the purpose of sociological study. Evidently the forthright sexual nature of some passages in these articles has led some (obviously uninformed) people to conclude that Dr. O’Brien is somehow against the Church, or cannot represent the Church’s position. To me, this is ludicrous. I suspect that some of the detractors are donors, and that Fr. Wild fears losing their support.

The time has come for the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences, who were not brought in at this latter stage of the process, to make our voices heard. I’m trying to organize a meeting between faculty and Fr. Wild. He has indicated a willingness to do this. The Arts and Sciences chairs are also trying to schedule a meeting with him. Needless to say, if the offer is withdrawn, the College and the University will be hurt in long-term, deep, and pervasive ways. We need to make the many issues at stake here clear to Fr. Wild in a very forceful way. Our central message must be: We will not stand for the withdrawal of this contract. Dr. O’Brien must come on board as Dean.

At this point, I would ask for your support in the following ways:

1. Forward this e-mail to anyone who supports Dr. O’Brien and is willing to take a stand on this.

2. Attend any meeting with Fr. Wild that is scheduled and publicized. If you can’t attend, send e-mails or other messages to Fr. Wild directly.

3. If a meeting with Fr. Wild cannot be scheduled, be prepared to e-mail Fr. Wild, Dr. Pauly, and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

4. At the meeting with Fr. Wild and in your e-mails to him and to others, do not be shy. Be clear and forceful. He needs to hear and heed the message of the majority of A & S faculty and administrators on this issue.

5. This is a teaching moment. Fr. Wild needs to be educated about what Dr. O’Brien’s scholarship means, and how to explain it to outsiders. Make it clear that we are not against him. We are here to support him in making the morally and prudentially right decision. We will help him do this; we will see this through with him. Take ownership of our college. Join with Fr. Wild to move this issue forward in the right way.

At this point the e-mail gets really interesting, since Snow makes it clear that she is going to use the Pere Marquette faculty dinner tonight as a political platform.

6. I will be emceeing the Pere Marquette dinner tonight. I heard that Krista suggested wearing pink — great idea. I will be color-coded in a lavender mock turtleneck (lavender is for lesbians) and a pink pashmina shawl. I will point this out, and explain what these colors mean. I will explain that the pink in the house does not support breast cancer, but our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

7. At one point in my remarks I will refer to the great women candidates we currently have. I would appreciate a hearty round of applause in support.

8. I plan to conclude the evening by reading Marquette’s statement on dignity and diversity and asking all who support it to stand up and take a stand for Marquette.

Finally, I would like to thank you, my trusted and valued colleagues, for your support in what has been a truly difficult time for me. When John Pauly and Fr. Wild told me about the decision to withdraw the contract, I was cut to the bone. With your help, I have hope that we can prevent this moral and prudential travesty from occurring. Thank you for your support in this. Let’s take ownership of our College!



Nancy E. Snow
Professor of Philosophy
Marquette University
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-1881

Snow also made comments to the Journal Sentinel:

Nancy E. Snow, a philosophy professor who said helped O’Brien hunt for houses in Shorewood last month, said the discussion of O’Brien’s work is a smokescreen.

“I think it’s all about her sexual orientation,” she said. She sent an e-mail to several faculty members saying that she suspects donors criticized the hire and that Marquette Wild fears losing their support.

Pfeil said she didn’t know of a donor threatening to pull a donation from Marquette because of the hire.

“This is a travesty that will have long-term impact for our ability to retain and hire high quality faculty,” Snow said. “It’s a public disgrace and an embarrassment.”

About 100 students marched carrying signs in front of Marquette’s Alumni Memorial Union, blocking part of Wisconsin Ave. on Thursday afternoon just before an award dinner for Marquette faculty. Some faculty members wore pink and lavender clothing and flowers in protest of the university’s decision.

Also when you get the chance read all of the JS comment… have a laugh.



  1. […] the original: Has any member of the Marquette Administration heard of “The … By admin | category: MARQUETTE | tags: dean, its-search, klingler, klingler-college, […]

  2. Wow, very interesting. Thanks for posting this. We need a more balanced view on the whole situation and this is very much appreciated. Continue to update as I will be reading!

  3. 5:45, you think this is “balanced”?

    “At least MUSG has 6 informed members that are smart enough to make a sound decision and not just act as a unintelligent reactionary voice.”

    This is like the Fox News of “fair and balanced.”

  4. wow Jamie that’s not nice.
    And neither is making statements without a defense of them.

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