Recent disparaging remarks from Western Kentucky University’s Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Gordon Emslie regarding Murray State, prompted response Friday from the University.
Emslie is quoted in a Kentucky School Board Association press release concerning the impending closure of Mid-Continent University and where the displaced students are seeking to finish their degrees. Murray State, along with Western Kentucky and other regional colleges, is in the process of recruiting Mid-Continent’s approximately 2,000 students in the past weeks, the majority of whom were enrolled in classes online.
“We want to make sure the students are afforded the right opportunity at the right place,” Emslie is quoted as saying. “Our online programs are much stronger than Murray State’s.”
Jay Morgan, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, emailed Emslie on Friday requesting he apologize publicly to Murray State.
Morgan acknowledged the “friendly-competition” between Murray State and Western Kentucky. However, he said he found Emslie’s public negative remarks to be uncharacteristic of another provost or chief academic officer.
“To date, I have received a significant number of notes, emails and phone calls from various individuals expressing their opinion that your comments were out of line, unprofessional, and simply untrue,” he said in his email. “Summarily, I admit that I fully agree on their opinions.”
Shortly after Emslie’s comment was published, Western Kentucky President Gary Ransdell was in contact with President Tim Miller and Emslie responded to Morgan’s email.
Emslie said at no time did he make the comment attributed to him in the KSBA press release and that this misquote was drawn from an inaccurate report that appeared in an article by The Bowling Green Daily News.
“I apologize for any concerns that the inaccurate reporting of my statements may have caused,” Emslie said in his email. “As you know, I have enormous respect for the academic programs, faculty, staff and students at Murray State, and I trust that we can put this unfortunate episode behind us and move forward in our usual collegial manner.”
Emslie attached a link to the Western Kentucky board of regents’ podcast for April 18 to his email where, in reference to Murray State’s support of Mid-Continent, he said he applauds the University’s support. He said “we believe, with (Western Kentucky’s) strength in online programming, we will have a large share of (Mid-Continent’s) market.”
The Western Kentucky provost was on campus Monday in order to attend the Council on Post-Secondary Education’s meeting at which the tuition cap for Kentucky universities for the next academic year was determined. Morgan said during this time he did get a chance to speak with Emslie in person.
“I just communicated to him that I was pushing back a little bit because that type of comment caught us off guard,” Morgan said. “And really what I relayed to him was that we have great academic programs here at Murray State and I’m going to defend them if anybody starts picking on them.”
Morgan said he believes both he and Emslie have said their piece on the matter and that the collegial relation between the schools is still a strong one and has not been affected.
Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer