“The Editor’s Desk” is a weekly, personal meditation by CT Editor Mark Galli on how he approaches the issues of the day.
One could imagine a better outcome at Wheaton College, but it probably wouldn’t be one that is achievable given all the bloodshed in the last few weeks. To me, however, what transpired is remarkable: a display of courageous humility by provost Stan Jones and the compromise between Wheaton and Professor Larycia Hawkins.
As this controversy continued to unfold, I wrestled with a conundrum for which no solution presented itself. For many years now, I’ve heard professors, staff, and students at many Christian colleges and universities complain that they don’t know what’s going on in their institutions. This seems to reflect the oft-noted reality that we today distrust institutions and their leaders. Many of us agree—even institutional leaders—that institutions should be more accountable to the people they serve.
The solution seems simple: Why not just become more transparent about what’s going on, telling those outside the administration what ideas are percolating, what the options are—all the while inviting the larger community to participate in the decision-making process? Wouldn’t that make for better decisions and a sense of ownership by all?
Let me say I am deeply sympathetic with this view.
Then recently I met a president of a West Coast Christian college who told me why his school has actually become less transparent over the years. He said before the Internet, his school was collaborative and transparent in decision making. It was typical for the school to present proposals to faculty and staff to get their input long before any decision ...1