Catholic school’s leader brings it to tumultuous crossroads

Mount St. Mary’s University is divided into two groups: Those who support the college president and those angered by his number-crunching strategies and blunt language, including his reference to struggling freshmen as “bunnies” that should be drowned if they can’t swim in a demanding academic environment.

Trustees of the private Catholic college in Maryland chose financial industry executive Simon Newman as president to make changes. But Newman’s brash approach prompted much of the faculty to demand his resignation. On the other hand, a student poll shows a lot of support.

The university board is taking two weeks to review the situation at “the Mount.” The problem underlying the turmoil is the same one confronting many small, liberal-arts colleges — how to survive with a humanities-heavy curriculum that’s short on business and technology programs.

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