The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

June 18, 2012

Hoskins, EKU Center board are recipients of shabby treatment

Guest Column

RICHMOND — I am writing in response to the story in Sunday’s Richmond Register reporting that Debra Hoskins’ name had been removed from the Center for the Arts web site and that an announcement about her status would be forthcoming.

Those of us who attended last week’s meeting of the Center’s Community Operations Board — at which the announcement was made that Ms. Hoskins was no longer employed by the university — know very well what that means, another employee has been bullied by the university.

And although the center’s board voted to retain Ms. Hoskins, its members were ignored and told, in effect, “Your opinion only matters if it agrees with what EKU has done.”

What it also means is that the local Richmond, Berea and Madison County community was told in not so many words that, although the Center for the Arts was a town-gown partnership, EKU could do anything it pleased, including some shamelessly shabby treatment of the center’s director who  had brought the community and the university together during a season of outstanding arts offerings.

Despite an 8-3 vote to support her, and an 8-3 vote to remove Dr. Skip Daugherty from supervising her, it was clear that what the center’s board wanted did not matter.

The big bully — the university administration — had decided, and that was that.

The locks on Ms. Hoskins’ door had been changed, and her named was removed from the center’s web site. The matter was settled with no discussion except behind closed doors at EKU.

It was a slap in face of local leaders who agreed to serve on the board and who worked with Ms. Hoskins to create a year of excitement in the community. They were told, in effect, that they were not important, that the supposed partnership was a sham.  

Despite an eloquent defense of Ms. Hoskins by Harry Moberly, Kent Clark and other local citizens on the board, it was business as usual for EKU. And it is interesting that the university’s actions took place after she had booked a second season of performances at the center.

The usual press release will announce her “resignation,” and the university will consider the matter closed.

How the story will end should depend on what local community leaders and citizens of this county can do to fight such treatment. Declining to financially support the center would send a message to university officials that bullying should not be a part of a positive town-gown relationship.

I hope everyone will join me in NOT renewing  season tickets next year. I think it is time for the local citizens to have a voice, and this is one way they can make their voices heard.

I have been witness to bullying in academe, both at EKU where I worked for more than three decades, and at another university half way around the world. It seems that power does indeed corrupt in any culture.

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