The movement to restore integrity in the leadership of King University has never been about one person. From the moment of its inception, this website, which represents the majority voice of the King community, identified Dr. Greg Jordan as the primary source of the reckless and irresponsible leadership endured for years by our beloved institution. But our document of principles also placed direct blame upon “King’s senior leadership,” Jordan’s inner circle of administrators who failed the school at every step of the way. It was King’s senior leadership, namely the Cabinet and Vice Presidents, who enabled Jordan’s abuses of power. It was King’s senior leadership who helped implement Jordan’s unbalanced policies by systematically channeling his frantic demands to faculty and staff. It was King’s senior leadership who failed to stand up to that unwanted president, even after they were faced with indisputable numerical proof of his immense unpopularity.
Shockingly, these are now the very same senior administrators who are making overtures to the new President, proclaiming that they tried to protect faculty and staff during Jordan’s reign. But the faculty and staff who endured the former president’s cruel and callous policies are unwilling to distinguish between Dr. Jordan and the members of his Cabinet. Like Jordan himself, members of the Cabinet have lost authority and, in many cases, the respect of the people that work under them.
This is especially applicable to a number of VPs and other Cabinet officials who, according to several sources, continue to maintain direct communication with Dr. Jordan. It also appears that Cabinet members are comparing notes and strategizing on ways to subvert the overwhelming majority of faculty, staff and students who want to see change at King. This website has heard from multiple members of staff that they were summoned last week by their respective VPs and told that:
- “Nothing has changed since Jordan left; it’s business as usual”
- “Faculty are endangering the future of the school by challenging Dr. Jordan’s vision”
- “Staff are advised to keep their heads down and not fraternize with faculty” who were in once case referred to as “the enemy”
- “Faculty and alumni are trying to get staff fired”
These efforts to intimidate staff appear to be coming from multiple VPs at the same time, and thus reveal central deliberation and strategizing on the part of Cabinet officials. The staff of King University are a most valuable resource, without which our beloved institution could not exist. We faculty see staff as our friends and colleagues, not our enemies. We are fighting this battle for all of us who want to work in an environment free of intimidation and threats at King. We urge our colleagues among the staff to dismiss these threats by their superiors and to continue reaching out to faculty, students and alumni. We also urge them to continue to document —as they have been doing— instances of intimidation by their superiors.
Through our unity, we have made crucial steps in liberating King from an unpopular leader. But his administration remains at the helm and is prepared to continue to cultivate an “us and them” policy of division, so as to retain its control and influence over our beloved institution. Members of staff, we need your help in order to prevail.
Every academic year, two King University faculty members are selected by popular demand by the student body to deliver a lecture before the King community. The students’ choices are announced at the Honors Convocation in April. The spring 2014 Faculty Lecturer was Dr. Vanessa Fitsanakis, who coordinates King’s neuroscience program. By an extraordinary twist of fate, Dr. Fitsanakis’ lecture had been scheduled for Monday, February 17, 2014, the first full day of classes following the resignation of Dr. Greg Jordan from the school’s presidency. Dr. Fitsanakis, a member of the Resistance Movement, used the occasion to recount the effort to oust Dr. Jordan and to outline the challenges that King now faces in this new era of consolidation and growth.
Dr. Fitsanakis spoke before an audience of over 200 students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees, who were celebrating the new era of openness and transparency at King. She told the jubilant crowd that, from now on, King’s leadership would have to “respect the views of faculty and staff without resorting to bullying or intimidation”. She went on to state that King’s staff and faculty should “strive to make our love for learning, serving, and educating so obvious to the community that rather than people asking the question, ‘Why King University?’, they ask themselves the question, ‘Why not King University?’”.
KING 1867 is pleased to provide here a recording, as well as a transcript, of Dr. Fitsanakis’ historic speech at King. The recording begins with some important remarks by Dr. Dale Brown, Director of the Buechner Institute. At 4:40, the speaker is introduced by her husband, Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis, who directs the Security and Intelligence Studies program at King. The main speech begins at 10:20. Thanks to Scott Rasnic for lending us his technical skills for this post.
Introduction by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished colleagues, students, friends. I welcome you to the first day of this new era for King University. I am especially pleased to see here among us members of our alumni community, members of the Board of Trustees, and many other lifelong friends of King. Your presence here is part of this historic celebration at this moment when the trajectory of our beloved school is about to change for decades to come.
I want to especially welcome here today former colleagues of ours, who had been declared personae non grata by the deposed president and senior administrators. The fact that they are here among us today signifies in the most tangible way possible that monumental changes are already taking place in this new environment that we built through our struggle during the past few months. The new King University is taking shape before our very eyes, in a new culture of freedom, transparency, mutual respect and solidarity. The excitement is so palpable you can almost touch it. And so believe me when I say to you that there has never been a better time to work or study at King University.
I look around me today and I see many of the students who risked their good names and even their undergraduate careers to stand up for justice. I also see dozens of members of this mysterious “small number” of “recalcitrant faculty” who “resisted change” because “they were afraid” of the new era of technological change in education. How ironic it is, therefore, that these recalcitrant technophobes joined hundreds of students and alumni across continents and, organizing through the power of social media, brought about monumental change at King. That they employed technology, not to sustain the specter of a “diploma mill” that was upon us, but to actually defend the integrity of 21st-century education.
And how appropriate it is that all of us are gathered here today to listen to one of the many important voices of these “recalcitrant faculty”, Dr. Vanessa Thomas Fitsanakis. Since she joined King in 2006, Dr. Fitsanakis has fought hard to defend her program against constant attempts by the now deposed leadership to dilute the academic integrity of her work. It has been a constant battle, but she has managed to succeed. She is now in her fifth year of being funded by the National Institutes of Health through two separate competitive grants. During this period she has handled nearly half a million dollars-worth of government funds, an accomplishment that is virtually unheard of among colleges the size of King. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, she has authored countless articles and book chapters and has attended, along with her students, numerous regional, national and international conferences. Her former students now populate some of our country’s most esteemed research and medical centers, and her work enjoys consistent recognition in both the undergraduate and graduate domains.
Many people are surprised when they hear that Dr. Fitsanakis grew up right here, in a farm in East Tennessee. Little Vanessa rode her first horse at 5 and drove her first tractor at 7. By her early teenage years she knew how to bale hay, mend fences, and fix cars. After graduating from Milligan College she went on to graduate school in Edinburgh, Scotland, where her life changed forever, once she met a bright young man from Greece, who kidnapped her, took her to his island, and talked her in to marrying him. By the time she realized what had happened, it was too late. And that should be a lesson for all you younger people here.
Most of all, through her years in higher education, Dr. Fitsanakis has remained true to the principles instilled in her by her family and her church, namely that the duty of a Christian is to be a transformative activist, and to speak truth to power at every given opportunity. Her talk today, entitled, “Wow, what just happened”, is a public testimony to these very values.
Please give a strong, recalcitrant welcome, to Dr. Vanessa Fitsanakis.
Lecture by Dr. Vanessa Fitsanakis, entitled “Wow, What Happened?”
Thank you for coming this morning. For those of you who have me in class this semester, since we missed Thursday and Friday last week, there will be a quiz on this lecture to make up for those two days. For the rest of you, I provided each of your professors with the same quiz just in case they wanted to use it for extra credit in their classes. I can only imagine how disappointed everyone was that we had a four-day weekend! And I want to let you know that I’m here to help you out of the goodness of my heart.
Lots of things have happened here on campus in the last two months. If you were paying attention, and you were not asleep, you may have heard reports in the fall of six brave students who wanted to attend a faculty meeting. Although they were not causing any trouble, and were there to find out more about the running of school and the treatment of the faculty, they were asked (or strongly advised) to leave. While you might have forgotten about that incident over Christmas break (and some were strongly hoping that you would…), you may recall that before and during the first chapel of this semester, students were praying (and protesting) as the now former President of the University, Dr Greg Jordan, addressed a relatively sparsely-packed building. Most recently, however, a student-led prayer group met just off the Oval in front of the Chapel during a crucial faculty meeting last Monday. For many of you and the SGA leaders, this has been an extremely busy time!
Dear Board of Trustees for King University:
We write to you to let you know we, as alumni, are committed to supporting the mission of the institution. To echo the commitment made when joining a church, we offer our prayers, our presence, our gifts and our service to the alma mater whose motto is “for the church and learning”. We trust that you will continue to take good steps forward in securing the future of King. And we look forward to some kind of accounting of the actions of this meeting that can be disseminated to the alumni community. Our first concern, the removal of President Jordan, is now in the past, and we are eager to see the fulfillment of some of the secondary, but important and related concerns.
- We look forward to this board following the practice of other institutions where the names and background of the Trustees are made public and even promoted as ambassadors and stewards of the school.
- The alumni hope that the board will implement auxiliary or supportive committees in which alumni with relevant professional expertise, contacts, and interests can work with the faculty and staff of King and its Board to advance the mission of the institution.
- The alumni respectfully request that the board, in consultation with the staff of the college, consider prioritizing the development of an alumni association or office solely to engage alumni and maintain their ties to the college, which is separate from the fundraising office.
- The alumni are eager to be partners in fundraising and donor development, but also want to engage with the college as volunteers, friends, and members of a community spanning decades, not merely donors.
- Many alumni are troubled by the lack of academic freedom and potential abuses of faculty integrity that could have been mitigated by traditional protections for academic freedom such as tenure. Although a traditional tenure system may not be entirely appropriate for King we ask that the academic affairs committee at least open up a conversation on effective processes for ensuring academic freedom and professional integrity, which ultimately undergird the value of the King brand.
- Finally, in the interest of Christian reconciliation and healing we request that the board host and provide a facilitator for a direct hearing between itself and faculty, staff, administrators and others who may have been harmed, such as former staff and faculty. Such an event need not be public, or publicized, but minutes should be kept and housed in the college archives (embargoed as necessary).
The nearly two decades of fear and intimidation will not be healed without time and openness.
We celebrate King’s past, are encouraged by its present, and look forward to working for its future with the board.
The Concerned Alumni of King
You’ve probably seen reference to the “Concerned Alumni of King University Conditional Pledge Drive,” or maybe even visited this link. but not really known what the pledge was about, or who is behind it. A group of alumni volleyed the idea of an alumni-driven fundraiser back in January to show the Board of Trustees that we meant business. Jordan needed to be removed from office and the alumni were no longer a disengaged, ill-informed body of stakeholders with little interest in how our alma mater continued forward.
How could we make the biggest impact? Our group of friends could only hope to raise maybe $25,000 between us. As business professionals, we knew this was not enough money to make an impression on an institution that oversees a $28 Million endowment. We had to think bigger. An idea was put forward: $200 per year for five years from 1,000 alumni – a $1,000,000 pledge made over five years that took into account the financial comfort levels of most of the people we know. As many of the members of this group are active leaders in our revolution to remove Greg Jordan, it was easy to soft sound this idea with other groups of alumni and with faculty members. Excitement built. This could work. We hammered out our conditions and passed the legal scrutiny of our attorney alumni contingent. We launched our conditional pledge drive just after Craig McDonald’s bold call for Jordan’s resignation with the following conditions:
(1) the removal of Gregory Jordan from the office of the President of King; (2) the publication of the membership of the Board of Trustees (BOT) on King’s website; (3) a direct hearing held by the BOT to address alleged abuses and grievances caused under Dr. Jordan’s presidency; (4) alumni being given 45 days notice of the date by which any installment of the donation is required.
In just eight days, we have raised more than $315,000 with only 216 pledges averaging $1,466 per pledge (that’s just under $293 per year, 80 cents per day). We have pledged more than 30 percent of our goal! I’m not sure that we imagined we would get this far this quickly. I could not be more proud of our community’s amazing effort. We are loudly proclaiming that King University’s culture, struggles and successes will no longer go unnoticed or unsupported by the alumni community.
Our first condition has been met. Friday, the Trustees accepted Jordan’s resignation, and we excitedly look toward King’s future. However, we have almost $700,000 more to raise! We’ve gathered our low-hanging fruit and it is time to work with our alumni office to get this pledge out to the remaining almost 5,000 reachable alumni that have not yet heard about King’s struggles and engage them in the conversation happening right now about how King moves forward.
Why should you care about the future of King? Why get involved? If we have already invested tens of thousands of dollars in King, isn’t our job done? We have our jobs; it is now our performance that secures our next position, not a degree on the wall. Judge Will Troutman, from the class of 98, who is friend in this movement, has asked and answered the question “Why care?” He writes:
“My degree, which is more than a piece of paper—is the heartbeat of a faculty and staff that cared, friends that I can call on today for guidance in times of trouble, facilitated many a job opportunity, has allowed me to know how to learn when I knew/know nothing about something specific, and has shaped me into a God-fearing, and respectable adult. Why Should I Give a Damn about the Events being brought to Light at King College? Because I DO give a damn, because I want to give back a little of what was given to me, because I believe that the power of a liberal arts education is premier, because the faculty and staff are more than teachers—but family and friends. I will contribute to King provided that there is a wholesale change in the present direction, I will contribute when Dr. Jordan and the facilitators of his flawed administration are removed. I will contribute when we return to the roots of academic excellence and to the mission and values of the historic King College. The chairman of the Board of Trustees and members of the Administration who discount the efforts of alumni, faculty, staff, and students do not speak for me. They deride us and attempt to discount our efforts, but we will not be deterred, we will not be afraid and we will be vigilant. We are not asleep; the sleeping giant has been awakened. And THIS is why I give a damn.”
As a member of our community, please support this pledge. Until the other conditions are met, you will pay no money. The money you pledge is not paid to an alum. Once our conditions are met, we will turn the pledges over to King University to collect the money due in year one. We cannot raise $1,000,000 without the help and support of our entire community. We’ve made a promise to King that we will support her as she changes administrations, as she reconciles with faculty and staff who have been mistreated, as she recommits to her students and as she rebuilds her legacy. The alumni aren’t going anywhere. #WeAreKing
Please donate here.
Below is a list of media reports chronicling the movement to oust the administration of President Greg Jordan from King University. The list is chronological and begins with the initial reports of the first student-organized forum in December of last year. If there is a media report that is missing from this list, please append it in the comments section so we can include it.
- King addresses its future, Bristol Herald Courier, December 2, 2013
- Forum answers questions for students at King University, WJHL, December 2, 2013
- Something is going on at King University, Examiner.com, January 30, 2014
- Some King University faculty worried about job security, WCYB, January 31, 2014
- Moment of Truth for King University, CNN iReport, February 2, 2014
- Prayer meeting held at King University in the midst of tensions, WJHL, February 11, 2014
- Board of Trustees member defends King University administration, WJHL, February 11, 2014
- King University president still in charge after two-thirds of faculty vote no-confidence, Johnson City Press, February 12, 2014
- Faculty to King University president: We have no confidence in your leadership, Bristol Herald Courier, February 12, 2014
- King University alumni fundraiser pledges $1M if president is removed, Johnson City Press, February 12, 2014
- King University president receives ‘no confidence’ vote, WCYB, February 13, 2014
- King University faculty speak publicly about president’s leadership, Johnson City Press, February 13, 2014
- Faculty Members at King U. Vote No Confidence in President, The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 13, 2014
- Vote of No Confidence in President of King U., Inside Higher Education, February 14, 2013
- King University leader resigns; students, faculty celebrate, Johnson City Press, February 14, 2014
- King University president resigns, Bristol Herald Courier, February 15, 2014
- New leadership at King University, WCYB, February 17, 2014
Dear friends and colleagues:
During all that has been revealed about the absurdist theater that was the presidency of Greg Jordan, many of us have been musing about what we want King University to be going forward and what sort of president would best contribute to the academic culture we hope will emerge. For example, we don’t want a dictator; we don’t want a person of low character; we don’t want a narcissist with no life/work balance, etc.
In positive terms, though, we want a president who values shared governance, who fights for academic freedom, who sees his or her primary role to be a raiser of funds, who delegates authority and trusts his or her employees to exercise that power effectively. Even Dr. Jordan, despite his recent attempts, could not run the university on his own. Every president needs individuals around who offer wise counsel, who refuse to idly flatter their boss, and who place the good of the community above any loyalty to the president.
Unfortunately for us —and for Dr. Jordan— many current cabinet members have more often enabled Jordan’s malfeasance than prevented it. There are some good and competent people —parents, Christians, educators— on the cabinet, but they have for some reason failed to balance out Jordan’s rash promiscuity in the last two or three years.
Were there people close to the former president who were willing to ruin their own careers in order to please Greg Jordan? Shockingly, there were a few. Were there VPs on board who sought to play both sides of the recent conflict in hopes of future promotion? Definitely. Were there senior staff actively working behind the scenes to bring leadership change from within? Hopefully. But the suspicion is that what compelled the King cabinet to blindly follow Jordan was simply this: personal weakness. Overwhelming fear, doubt, and uncertainty. A lack of faith. These are, of course, the very same reasons have kept most faculty cowed —until a few weeks ago.
I sincerely hope that a reconciliation will be forged between those who risked so much to bring change to the college and those who clung to the status quo. We all have mistakes to answer for and wounds to heal.
I would also like to suggest that future senior administrators entrusted to lead King into the coming years must embody a set of values evidenced by their actions on the job:
1. Students come first. The number one job an academic administrator has is to make the connections between students and professors work smoothly. The dean or director must do all he or she can to provide a clear pathway for learning AND THEN STEP OUT OF THE WAY. The college is about students and faculty. Period. They are the stars, and the rest of us are there to support them; it is on you to find creative and resourceful ways to help them. Personal ambition is the least helpful impulse to entertain as an administrator.
2. Faculty are our most important asset. Likewise, administrators must recognize that faculty above all else must be free to teach what they wish and how they wish, even if you don’t particularly like them. Yes, they can be an odd lot at times, but the relationships they build with students can have impact for generations. They possess the “goods” that our students want. No student comes to a university because of who the Associate Dean for Development is or even who the president is. They come for the majors and the faculty. The classroom (whether real or virtual) is a kind of sacred space; desecrating that space with needless intrusion defeats the purpose of the university.
3. The good of the community trumps the good of the administrator. There must be a recognition that decisions from the top have ripple effects among the students, alumni, and employees of the school. Numbers on spreadsheets very often stand for real people. In cases where one’s own ease or advancement clearly impinges upon the good of others, an individual in authority must always opt for the good of the many. Even when that means you will have to disagree with your boss. If your boss has no one to whom he or she is accountable, THAT IS A BAD THING. The culture at King for years has been one of going along to get along; it cannot be so again.
4. The past must be honored. The sacrifices and contributions of faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees of the past must not be forgotten. While upholding tradition for its own sake can create its own evils, the savvy administrator knows that he or she has much to learn from those who came before. Seek to understand and nourish the consistent legacies that have made so many disparate people care about King since 1867.
5. Doing the right thing demands a constant struggle. This is perhaps the hardest. If an administrator is burned out or no longer has the will to fight for the community, then he or she should draw back. Seek a position requiring less responsibility to fewer people. Seek to achieve a life, friendships, and interests that are not dependent upon the day to day functions of the college. Learn from the mistakes that Jordan and his current cabinet made. Easy solutions that require no sacrifice on the part of King leadership are likely THE WRONG SOLUTIONS. Any initiative that enriches your own purse and takes from the community is THE WRONG INITIATIVE.
And finally, to all administrators current and future —use your common sense. Fix the damn oval. Fix dorm rooms, rest rooms, art spaces, athletic facilities, and classrooms on the main campus. Don’t be a jerk to the people you work with. Do the right thing. If you have no heart to serve in even these basic ways, then why are you here?
We received this message from a member of faculty. Emphasis has been added. KING 1867 supports the sentiments expressed in this letter.
“I’ve been trying to write this letter for hours, but my attempts at crafting a beautifully poignant manuscript are falling short, and so I’m just going to type what I came here to say; beautiful or not.
The media, both traditional and ‘social’, have portrayed King as being in divisive turmoil. But I see it differently. I see us as a family who are finally standing strong and talking about something that has been plaguing us in different ways for years. Greg Jordan has adversely affected everyone. The stories flowing from EVERY corner of the campus are evidence of that. The real turmoil was hidden and endured by us for YEARS, and so many faculty and staff members are finally optimistic after this unhealthy leadership finally came to an end; we are thus ready to share our stories. Hearing the stories from staff members, in particular, both on KING1867 and in person, have struck such a chord with me; with all Faculty members.
Staff members: please know the faculty stands behind you and values you more than you know. If I went building by building, office by office, I could recount an instance (or dozens of instances in most cases) where a staff member made my day better, my class better, my job better. That’s not unique to me, that’s something any faculty member could do. It makes hearing these stories all the more difficult. I’m baffled how one man could make so many people miserable, and I’m shocked with the things he’s done; things he’s made staff and faculty members do. We ALL deserve a better working environment. The students we all serve together deserve it most of all.”
Generations of King students have wrestled with Machiavelli’s famous question for princes: is it better to be loved or feared? Given the outpouring of affection for Craig McDonald over the past days, it would seem that King’s alumni and students agree wholeheartedly on the answer: it is better to be loved. King’s alumni and students use words for McDonald like “love” and “admire” and “respect.” They recall his humor, his grace, his integrity, his deep faith, his great learning. Even with the passage of many years, they say that he continues to shape them and inspire them. McDonald is loved deeply by those to whom he has given his life’s work. Although he has not occupied a high office, he has been a leader, in the deepest sense of the word.
Greg Jordan, by contrast, certainly inspired fear, as any brief perusal of staff and faculty testimonials have shown; yet not even those few who have defended certain changes at King look to him as a true leader. Try finding the verbs “love” or “admire” or “respect” in a sentence whose object is Jordan. In one sense, Jordan proved the value of fear: for years staff and faculty did his bidding, afraid to question his rash proclamations or stand up for their rights. But as the cloud of fear lifted, it revealed not a leader but a bully; and a bully without fear cannot lead anyone anywhere.
This study in contrasts is not limited to Dr McDonald. Compare Jordan’s bankrupt leadership style to the leadership of the resistance to his regime of fear (faculty, staff, students, alumni, members of the community):
- Consider how much effort students gave to find their voice, having been so long ignored.
- Consider how much effort alumni gave to participate in the direction of their alma mater, having been so long disregarded.
- Consider how much effort staff gave to keep King running, having been so long overburdened, under-resourced, and over-hurried.
- Consider how much effort faculty gave to maintaining the quality of their courses and keeping up morale in the classroom, having been so long oppressed.
- Imagine the energy of faculty, now that they are free to pursue the great vision of King for the church and for learning.
- Imagine the energy of staff, now that they will be charged with sensible responsibilities and adequate resources to make King a place of welcome for all our students.
- Imagine the energy of alumni, now that they will be sought for guidance, support, and promotion of King in the wider world.
- Imagine the energy of students, now that they will be consulted about their educational environment and their personal formation.
- Now consider that King will have a leader who will issue a call to these constituents to faithful and joyful fulfillment of their tasks.
- Now consider that King will have a leader who will work tirelessly to provide the financial and civic support necessary to make King thrive.
- Now consider that King will have a leader who will not deal in fear.
Now consider that King will have a leader who is loved.
‘Ecclesiae et litteris’
From the moment of its inception, this website, which represents the majority voice of King University’s faculty and staff, has argued that the best thing Dr. Greg Jordan could do for King would be to leave. He has now done so, having finally heeded the call of the “small number” of “recalcitrant faculty” who stood up to him and his administration.
Tonight is a time for celebration for the hundreds of students, alumni, faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly for nearly three months to restore integrity to the leadership of King University. Beginning tomorrow morning, we will enter the process of reforming King’s administrative mechanisms, so that our beloved institution will never again experience the dehumanizing viciousness we saw under the administration of Greg Jordan.
Some have suggested that we ought to thank Dr. Jordan for his service to King. We agree. His most important legacy is that his monumental failure in leadership galvanized and united our faculty, staff, students and alumni against his administration’s excesses. His disdain for the traditions of this fine institution pushed us to reach out to each other and establish networks of cooperation and support. These networks will now form the basis on which King will stand to reestablish itself as the finest institution of higher education in our region.
There has never been a better time to work at King. The excitement among faculty, staff, students and alumni is literally palpable. We always believed in the strength of our employees, who have carried the school while Jordan’s “strategic vision” failed us at every step of the way. King has done well despite, not because, of Dr. Jordan’s “vision”.
We used to wonder how much better King could be if we, the faculty and staff who work here, were able to operate under a leadership that appreciated us and that we actually supported and loved. We now have the opportunity to experience just that. We have the opportunity to unleash the best part of us and turn this school once again into a pinnacle of Christian education and social transformation in Appalachia and beyond.
Thank you to all who have joined this revolution. We have shown King’s administration and the community-at-large, what true leadership looks like.
King University has sent out a press release to the media, stating that Greg Jordan has resigned from the post of president of King University. Dr. Dick Ray, until now Vice Chair of of King University’s Board of Trustees, has been named Interim President. The main part of the press release from King University is as follows:
“King University President Dr. Gregory D. Jordan has resigned from his position at the private Presbyterian institution. Dr. Jordan had served as President of the University since 1997. “It is with a heavy heart that we accept Dr. Jordan’s resignation,” says Marcia Porter, member of the King University Board of Trustees Executive Committee. “We appreciate Greg’s tremendous contributions to the school during his tenure as President, and before that as an esteemed faculty member. King University is the institution it is today, with expanding campuses, additional programs and multiple learning platforms, due to his vision, leadership and business acumen”. The press release notes that “Dr. Jordan’s resignation is effective immediately.”
True to form, King’s marketing department thought it wise to send out the press release to the media before notifying the students, faculty or staff of King University. Until his last moments as President, Greg Jordan displayed his utter contempt for the people who work for him.
We received this letter from a current student at King. We decided to publish it because it attests to the level of awareness of our student body as well as the level of anger among students about President Greg Jordan’s so-called “strategic vision.” The letter has been edited in the interest of brevity and some parts have been redacted to safeguard the identities of current and former professors.
“As a student of King, I am completely outraged by the recent letter addressed to the King Alumni. This campus needs their support now more than ever. In a desperate attempt to force what “key Administration” claims to be a small number of “disgruntled faculty” and “fringe students” to keep silent and back off; the marketing department has published a complete load of hogwash. They have covered up Dr. Jordan’s schemes to the point that they can no longer keep their story straight. So, the purpose of my letter is to expose the “strategic plan” for what it is […]. In order to highlight the truth, I am attacking the Alumni letter that was recently posted by the marketing department, on the forum. I want to make it clear to the campus community how these ridiculous schemes and fear tactics are not only out of control, but are far from “rumors and innuendo” […].
First of all, let me point out that in the letter addressed to Alumni, the Peake School of Christian Mission is briefly stated, but never once is it mentioned that the Peake home was renovated by Dr. McDonald in the 2004-2005 school years. The home was dedicated to Dr. Jack E. Snider in honor of many decades of unselfish loyalty to King College. The Jack Snider’s Honors House was established for the purpose and cause of a higher Christian education. I call your attention to the Alumni letter, as well as the History of King University that is written on the King website. You will see that Dr. Jack Snider’s name has been removed in both articles, and the Honors House is not once mentioned […]. Removing Dr. Snider’s name is heart-wrenching and cuts me to the very bone. Dr. Snider was my patient during the time I worked at NHC as a Physical Therapy Aide. It was my job to help Dr. Snider learn to walk again after he fell and broke his hip. Dr. Snider and I became quite good friends. We spoke about many things during those months and he made his vision for the campus clear. I would like to know how Dr. Snider’s money was spent.
Anyone who remembers Dr. Snider will know that he was the complete opposite of Greg Jordan. Dr. Snider was a man of true integrity. He had no children, but loved the students at King as his own. It angers me to no end that the man who dedicated so many years of his life and money to King College has completely been blacklisted and removed from King College history […].
Also, notice that the Medical School is still being promoted, even after this “strategic plan” failed over a year ago. This is not only false advertisement, but it “is hurting a considerable number of faculty and staff” as they claimed. And let’s not forget the students. I know of three students who came to King for pre-med. These students were hoping to complete their undergrad degrees and be accepted to the Medical School program, but these three students, along with countless others feel that they have been cheated. This is why the lies and the “strategic planning” have come to a boil.
If these facts are not enough to completely gut the entire King College community, let’s talk about another dirty deed: The President and Chief Academic officer have stated that there are no plans to fire any faculty. Oh really? Let me remind everyone, yes this campus is turned upside-down, but the students here are highly intelligent. They are aware of what’s going on. The thing that led to campus rebellion in the first place was the fact that Dr. Jordan wants to remove all senior Professors which have deep roots to the College and are devoted to the original mission and purpose. Dr. ███████ is now number one on Dr. Jordan’s blacklist, but Dr. Jordan tried to have Dr. ███████ replaced by Ms. █████ months ago. █████ refused this position and this led to the loss of her contract. However, when the students caused such uproar by our precious music being taken, Dr. Jordan was forced to renew the contracts of Ms. █████ and Mr. █████ to keep the students quiet. Another senior Professor, Dr. ███████ was blacklisted back in the summer when she disagreed with Dr. Jordan during a meeting. Continue reading
The most important part of a private college president’s job is fundraising. This is the primary reason why Dr. Jordan is paid so handsomely, in the order of approximately $1,350 per weekday, including perks, such as membership in three area golf clubs. But fundraising has not been one of Dr. Jordan’s strengths as President. To excuse his meager accomplishments in the fundraising field, he has told the faculty on numerous occasions that “there are just no big donors left out there for places like King.” But other nearby schools have managed to find them, even to fund building projects dedicated to the Performing Arts. Here are just a few small examples:
- Milligan College: The Elizabeth Leitner Gregory Center for the Liberal Arts, a 298-seat theatre along with dark rooms for photography, opened to students in 2008. Board of Trustees.
- Northeast State Technical Community College: The Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts opened in the fall of 2008. The seating capacity is 500, and the facility has access and seating for the disabled. Tennessee Board of Regents.
- East Tennessee State University: In 2009, East Tennessee State University President Dr. Paul E. Stanton Jr. announced the establishment of the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts with a $1 million naming endowment created by James C. “Jim” Martin. ETSU Foundation Board of Directors.
- Emory and Henry College: The Woodrow W. McGlothlin Center for the Arts is currently under construction. This $20 million facility will “solidify Emory & Henry’s reputation as the regional leader in the arts while it enhances the College’s academic program in arts education.” Emory & Henry Board of Trustees.
Could it be that Dr. Jordan is simply incapable of raising funds, due to having burned bridges in the community? Or is it that he is so busy micromanaging the place (approving blueprints for satellite campuses, monitoring students’ grades, even directing where flat-screen TVs should be hung in the Student Center Complex) that he simply has no time left to raise funds for the school? I think we should be told.
Last Tuesday, King University’s official alumni webpage, which had mysteriously vanished once the administration discovered that alumni were utilizing it to campaign against it, suddenly reappeared. It featured a rambling and factually incoherent message to alumni, which was also sent to thousands of recipients via email. Predictably, King alumni, who have been engaged for several months in a massive effort to oust the school’s president, Greg Jordan, were appalled. Staying true to their academic heritage, they conducted their own meticulous research, which unearthed very different sets of data about King’s performance under Greg Jordan’s administration. In a statement sent to KING 1867, the alumni said they were “appalled at King University’s blatant attempt to misdirect and hoodwink less-informed alumni with its massaged and outdated statistics” posted on its alumni webpage. Their carefully researched response, which is the result of a collaborative effort by members of Concerned Alumni of King, is summarized in the following infographic, which is embedded below, and can also be accessed on Scribd.
Youth Ministry Professor Dan Kreiss has joined a growing number of King University’s current and former faculty who are publicly calling for President Greg Jordan to resign. Speaking to the Bristol Herald Courier, Kreiss said he did not think Jordan “is the one to lead [King] into the future,” adding that “there are a lot of questions into the character and integrity of the leadership” at the University. Kreiss, an American who lived in New Zealand for over a decade before coming to King in 2006, said he was one of King’s 62 full-time faculty members who voted against Jordan in a vote of confidence on Monday. The Courier article noted that 71 of 101 faculty members who voted in the anonymous ballot refused to express confidence in Jordan’s leadership. Kreiss said that the overwhelming no-confidence vote “indicates that there is a growing problem” with Greg Jordan’s administration and urged King’s Board of Trustees to “seriously examine his presidency and the future of the University.” The paper added that it has made “multiple attempts” to contact the Office of the President over the past week, but its efforts have been met with silence. (we know how that feels –ed.)
The article includes statements by King alumna Erin Fairbanks, on behalf of Concerned Alumni of King, and André Latimore, president of the King University Student Government Association. Latimore told the paper that “cherished professors are being disrespected and that is translating down to the student,” adding that the atmosphere on campus is “toxic”. President “Jordan and others in authority keep saying that this is the work of a select few”, said Latimore. “But that is totally inaccurate. They just aren’t listening”.
On Monday, February 10, King University’s full-time faculty voted on the matter of confidence in President Greg Jordan. Following the vote, KING 1867 issued a statement urging all sides in this dispute to remain silent, thus allowing the Board of Trustees to perform the task before which it finds itself. Our call was not heeded by the Jordan administration, which immediately went on the offensive, effectively dismissing the outcome of the vote and signaling its determination to stay in power.
King University’s official alumni webpage, which had mysteriously vanished once the administration discovered that alumni were utilizing it to campaign against it, reappeared on Tuesday. It featured a rambling and incoherent message to alumni, which was also sent to thousands of recipients via email. Chief among the inaccuracies was the claim that “a small number of faculty are creating a maelstrom of fear-based rhetoric on campus” and that these “recalcitrant faculty” are resisting the administration “because they want King’s focus to remain solely on Liberal Arts programs.”
That this baseless claim was published after Monday’s faculty vote is a clear indication that the administration’s narrative is based on conscious and deliberate fabrications. According to Wednesday’s Johnson City Press, which leaked the results of the vote, over two thirds of King’s faculty expressed lack of confidence in President Jordan. The paper reported that “30 members voted that they had confidence in Jordan, 62 said they had no confidence and nine abstained from voting”. KING 1867 does not wish to dispute the accuracy of this information, and challenges King’s senior administration to do so.
The Johnson City Press further noted that, of the thirty votes cast in favor of Dr. Jordan, six presumably came from himself and his five Vice-Presidents, who have voting rights even though they are not teaching faculty. Even with those votes included, the result of the ballot, as reported in the press, would indicate that over 70 percent of King’s faculty are not willing to express confidence in President Jordan in a secret ballot. This number is hardly representative of “a small number of faculty”. And it far exceeds the faculty strength of the School of Arts and Sciences, which according to King’s 2013-2014 Academic Catalogue, numbers no more than 22 full-time members. The results of the vote, as reported in the press, reveal widespread condemnation of Dr. Jordan’s leadership from every school at King.
Based on this information, KING 1867 calls on the administration of President Greg Jordan to immediately retract the fabrications reported on its alumni page, and to email a correction to King’s alumni. It also calls on Dr. Jordan to heed the clear message of the faculty vote and resign immediately for the good of the school. The longer Jordan and his senior administrators cling on to power, the more disconnected, arrogant and condescending they appear to the thousands of students, alumni, faculty and staff of King who are demanding that they step down, effective immediately.
We received this message from an admissions staff member at King. Emphasis has been added.
“I have finally decided to speak up as carefully, respectfully, and honestly as I can. I am sending this from an off campus email and an off campus IP address. Yes, this is how fearful I am for my job and the ability to support my family.
I work with the adult student populations and I have been to every King University campus over the past ██ years. While our home campus continues to fall apart and its traditions uprooted, the new campuses appear to be state of the art, specifically Knoxville and Nashville. I was shocked to learn the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been poured into these locations. These numbers are NOT an exaggeration.
It is true, the liberal arts education is gone and the majority of students (while I am sure wonderful people) will hold the same King degree as those individuals applying to the main campus and graduating in 4 years. If you look at the business model, it mirrors that of a for-profit institution and that is a travesty.
There needs to be a “cleaning” of the house in terms of senior leadership or the King degree will have little respect and value as the school evolves into one of many diploma mills.
May God shine His grace, mercy and peace on those seeking His will during this time of tension. The entire team at multiple sites is worn out and frustrated.”
On Saturday, the Concerned Alumni of King University, an organization representing hundreds of King alumni, began a campaign to raise $1,000,000 to support the school. Pledges are payable over five calendar years and are conditional on: (1) the removal of Gregory Jordan from the office of the President of King; (2) the publication of the membership of the Board of Trustees (BOT) on King’s website; (3) a direct hearing held by the BOT to address alleged abuses and grievances caused under Dr. Jordan’s presidency; (4) alumni being given 45 days notice of the date by which any installment of the donation is required. By Monday night, a little over 48 hours since its initiation, the campaign had raised nearly $200,000 in pledges by concerned alumni. One generous contributor was Joel Burroughs MD, from the class of 1987, who pledged $5,000 to the cause and posted the following message on KING 1867:
“Once upon a time, Greg Jordan was very in touch with students. He used hang out with students, play basketball with them, spend time with them and understand them. It’s been a while since I was there, but it sounds as if he has lost touch with reality and the people he is really supposed to be serving. As a Bible professor, I’m sure he is familiar with Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, setting the example as a servant leader. I believe he has lost site of his role as a servant leader. There have been numerous faculty changes since my time at King, but there are still those there who are very dear to me. It pains me greatly to hear the struggles to which the faculty and staff are being subjected. Dr McDonald, I applaud your courage in taking a stand and hope others will follow suit. A large portion of my fondest memories in life come from my time at King. I cannot begin to explain how this institution and the relationships formed there have impacted me and shaped the person I have become. I cringe to think this is on the verge of becoming a thing of the past. It is telling that everyone with whom I’ve conversed to this point, to a person, feel the administration is unresponsive to the needs of the faculty, the students and to the heritage of King as a liberal arts institution founded on Biblical principles. With a heavy heart, I agree that it is time for this administration to leave. I pledge $5000 to King when his administration is removed.“
Please help King’s concerned alumni succeed in this heartfelt campaign. No amount is too small. Many have contributed as little as $5.00 a year, which is $25.00 closer to the final goal of $1,000,000 over five years. Thank you for standing by the King community.
KING 1867 exists to give voice to the concerns of King University’s faculty and staff, who have been silenced for years by an obtuse and unresponsive administration. For over a month, we have consistently argued that the leadership of our beloved school lacks the moral authority to lead. In our official statement of principles we warned that the school’s senior administration “has lost the trust and respect of King’s employees.”
From its very beginning, this effort was embraced by thousands of students, alumni, faculty and staff, who echoed our primary demand: that King’s corporate vision be implemented with reference to Christian integrity and moral uprightness. Along with the sea of supporters came the inevitable handful of detractors who mocked the legitimacy of this movement and doubted that its concerns represent a majority of educational professionals at King.
As of this afternoon, the arguments of these detractors lie shattered.
This website will honor the request of King’s Faculty Relations Committee that the precise outcome of the faculty vote on the matter of confidence in the current president, which took place on this day, February 10, 2014, shall not be shared with the general public. But it will also honor the bravery and integrity of the men and women who stood up to this authoritarian administration and risked their good names and livelihoods in the service of dignity and self-respect. Their stance was vindicated today in the most resounding way possible through the sheer force of numbers.
The matter of confidence in the current president has been settled. The faculty body, alongside staff, students and alumni, has now spoken. It is time for silence by both supporters and detractors, as we wait for the Board of Trustees to do its duty. We are certain that it will do so with a heavy heart, just as our faculty did today. But taking immediate and drastic action is a necessary step to bring King back to its original path, from which it has strayed for far too long.
While a student at King, I had the honor to be led and mentored by a man who had no sense of time. The yellowed, thirty year-old notebook paper to which he referred for lecture notes was only an amusing indication of the way this man was temporally unbound. Meeting with him and my classmates on moldy carpet, watching him prop his books upon broken particle board lecterns, hearing the heavy window crashing down because the ruler broke; these are some of my fondest memories. The ideas being suspended downstairs in Bristol Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Fall of 2005 were not empowered by anyone present in that room, or certainly the majesty of the room itself. Indeed, as I reflect on those months, I now understand that the conditions for learning were perfect; anyone just returning from a seminar on environmental pedagogy could not have made them better. We came into the class strong, and with impressive answers waiting on just the right question. Brokenness, something we had previously been taught to sneer, was now a course requirement. Plato smacked us in the face with our own ignorance. Humility, we were told, was the foundation of all knowledge; we were there to learn just how much we did not know. Time did not exist in that room because the people speaking there, spanned millennia and they were all more pitiful than we were, even more than the decaying ceiling tiles.
As people here on this earth, we share an abnormal condition, namely a body of sin. The world was made perfect, and we threw poison in the soil; unwittingly, we coveted death thinking that it would give us eternal life. Since then, because grace intervened, our common life has taken an abnormal trajectory. We affront God, ridiculing him everyday in our hearts; none of us are good, not one. Yet 2 Corinthians 5:21 reminds us that, “He who knew no sin became sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” That is why our life is un-natural; someone intervened into the natural course of our destruction and brought us back to the Garden.
The second chapter of Romans tells us that in our judgment of others, we condemn ourselves because we who judge practice the same things. Our only righteousness is Christ’s righteousness; we can lay no claim to any of our own making. Any goodness we have or show is a work of grace. Any discernments or judgments we make must be bathed in contrition and humility. Our President is prone to actions that are selfish, miserly, deceitful, hypocritical and oppressive. However, as I think back throughout the past week, I know that I have exhibited similar traits in heart, word and deed. Given the perfect standard to which he and I are both held, it is ludicrous to tally and compare our sins; Dr. Jordan and myself both deserve to suffer eternally in Hell. That’s what fairness dictates. Jesus Christ is infinitely good; one deviation from that standard is damning. Our President, my own, and all of our only hope is to fall on our knees and seek Christ’s abundant grace, praying that He would make us new, then communicate such a spirit in our words and actions toward others. Such is the qualification for our leader at King. It is folly to forget the nature of our transformation. Our only healthy way forward is to bear with unbelievers and fellow sinners, according to the undeserved grace given to us. Be angry, scripture commands us, but do not sin.
I am very angry and wholeheartedly join the call for Dr. Greg Jordan to step down as King’s President. I make this assertion based on the lack of biblically-based personal contrition in his recent letter, along with his persistent disregard for the welfare of his brothers and sisters in Christ, who are my friends and mentors. It makes no difference to me whether or not certain rumors are true, concerning the practical implementation of a strategic plan. I’m calling for him to leave his position as President because he has forsaken the call of servant leadership, and thus has broken the first and greatest commandment. However, I love Dr. Jordan and pray for him, knowing that he, like myself, stands or falls according to the will of God. In the narrative that we as concerned students, faculty, staff and alumni feel we need to communicate, it is very easy to lose sense of nuance insofar as our hearts are concerned before God. The positions we take are absolute, however our hearts must be contrite and trembling. In order to be blessed, we must mourn as we point our fingers, knowing that we, at any moment, could also fall. Sarcasm and wit are useful rhetorical tools; scoffing and mockery are sins. As the next few weeks develop, let us all please examine our hearts so that we speak with the mind of Christ. All of our time on earth is but a few seconds; our good deeds are timeless and will be remembered for eternity. Let us run this broken course with endurance, redeeming all the time we are given.
Lecturer in Political Science
Class of 2006