Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Open Letter to Kathy Wilmot, candidate for University of Nebraska Board of Regents


Dear Ms. Wilmot:

You are not qualified to be a University of Nebraska Regent, so do everyone in the state a favor and withdraw your candidacy before the November election. As a former faculty member who awarded grades to about 17,000 students over a fifty-year period, I can assure you that when you want to replace chancellors and presidents because, in your words “there are some courses at NU that are ‘liberal leaning’”, that indicates you are either not intelligent enough to understand what universities do, or you are pandering to a Republican base that has consistently attacked American education at all levels and want to use a position of power to do something really stupid. Either explanation reveals you are unqualified for such a position, so withdraw from the race. The University of Nebraska is too valuable to this state, economically, to be governed by the ignorant. Just withdraw.

From my half-century in the classroom, virtually every year in front of large introductory science classes, I can assure you and your Republican friends that it is virtually impossible to indoctrinate college students, at least to any recognizable degree. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to get them to turn off their cell phones! Eventually they get good grades, at least some of them do, and end up as doctors, dentists, other health care professionals, teachers, attorneys, and owners of various businesses. A few of my ~17,000 former students ended up in the NFL, probably doing as well financially as some of those other former students, now physicians who’ve done surgery on my family members. Admittedly, some of those ~17,000 may have taken a course in which they had to read well-documented history that the modern GOP would like to ignore. Or maybe to get a good grade, they had to answer questions about evolution. God forbid some required science course might have used the term “global warming” instead of “drought mitigation” which, we all know, refer to exactly the same thing—the former to the actual planetary phenomenon, the latter to what Nebraska agriculture needs to work toward as a result.

Speaking of evolution, where in the hell were you and your kind when I was teaching introductory biology, huh? I kept wishing that the Regents would require that biology profs give equal time to creation and evolution. Why, there are so many creation myths, and so many of them are filled with sex and violence, that my teaching evaluations would have gone through the roof (along with my merit raises!) If I was teaching biology these days, I most certainly would introduce extinction as a process that is currently destroying much of Earth’s biodiversity, and thus healthy ecosystems, faster than scientists can discover it. Lucky I’m not still teaching, right? Those lectures on extinction might be considered “liberal leaning.” Speaking of discovery, however, I might use some original species description, which is discovery of a new kind of organism to illustrate the process. What species might I choose? How about Baracktrema obamai, a beautiful small invertebrate named in honor of a former president?

Given the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe vs. Wade, and the subsequent orgy of anti-women legislation initiated by Republican officials at all levels, I strongly suggest sending a culture warrior from your campaign to take an art history course. That person would likely have to sit through lessons on Abstract Expressionism, clearly liberal, but financially rewarding to some who practiced it. But the real problem is that some American art has been produced by LGBTQ people, and some of that art is now fetching big bucks at auctions. Here’s my impression of a “liberal leaning” course: Art History that uses work by LGBTQ and women artists to illustrate big ideas, creativity, individuality, financial success (think Sotheby’s auctions), and investment by billionaires. Would any of our precious Nebraska college children be damaged by such course material? You gotta be kidding if you believe so. Would the existence of such a course justify removal of a chancellor and a university system president? If your answer is “yes” you are clearly unqualified to be on any Board of Regents and you know it. So just withdraw.


John Janovy, Jr.

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