An open letter to Kathleen McElroy: Forget about Texas A&M. Come to UW-Oshkosh.

Please consider these words of wisdom… If it would bring you here to UWO, Dr. McElroy, I would gladly perform the entirety of any scene from “Cool as Ice” for you every day, simply for your amusement.


Dear Dr. McElroy,

Even though we have never met, I have been following your situation from afar and find it depressingly untenable. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be recruited, lauded and praised by an institution you love and admire, only to have that place fold up on you like a cheap card table when the wind started blowing in another direction. I also can’t imagine what it’s like now trying to figure out where to go in life: You basically told your previous employer you were leaving, only to now realize you CAN’T leave for this other job.

The interim dean at A&M, who apparently pointed out to you that you are “a Black woman who worked at The New York Times,” (both of which he seemingly considered negatives somehow when he made that statement) has resigned his position in the administration over this cluster-mess.  University President M. Katherine Banks, who professed astonishment and ignorance of all the changes to your position,  has “retired immediately” because the “negative press has become a distraction.” (Right. The PRESS is the problem, not the not-so-thinly-veiled racism, the shameful backpedaling or the generally terrible way the school handled this situation.)

This has to be twice as painful for you, as TAMU is your alma mater and that really seemed to be a driving force for you, based on what I read. (For me, I’d be pretty OK if I went back to one of my degree-granting institutions. The other one? I’d rather you stabbed me in the face with a live cattle prod than send me there for a faculty slot.)

This would be a comedy of errors if it weren’t so sad and tragic.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer you this plea: Drop those zeroes and get with the heroes here at UW-Oshkosh. We would LOVE to have you, and I personally would love to spend as much time learning from you as humanly possible.

Here’s the best case I can offer you for such a career move:

Your governor is treating DEI like it’s an STI, signing a bill that would close all offices at universities that he deemed “anti-white.” He’s also anti-tenure, anti-education and looks like a terrible 1980s televangelist to a really creepy degree.

Our governor is a former state superintendent of schools, who favors public education and improving the lives of school children throughout the state. He also pulled off one of the smoothest line-item veto moves in history, to increase public education spending for the next 400 years.

The person who was going to be your boss at A&M had a history of doing some truly dumb things with student media, including trying to overstep her position and kill the print edition of your amazing student newspaper, The Battalion.  She then rationalized her decision to go against the wishes of pretty much everyone in this situation with the immortal line of “I’m not a professor of journalism, I don’t understand exactly why [print media] is important to the field.”

The person at UWO who would be your boss has been pretty darned good to journalism and student media. When a bunch of little… um… student government people demanded my head as the adviser of the student newspaper, he stepped in and kept the idiots at bay. He was also instrumental in our fundraising drive and even gave money out of his own pocket to help out.

In addition, our offices are in the newest academic building on campus, right down the hall from our African American studies department. “Doc” Simpson is an amazing leader of that department and Dr. Denae Powell is one of the coolest people I know. (If you like to laugh, we enjoy sharing a lot of “guess what a student just said/did” stories as we pass each other’s office on a daily basis.)

We’re a fun, small, collegial bunch and we take care of each other. We don’t silo up into “news” versus “PR” or whatever, and we really do our best to help each other and all of “our kids” that enter the program. Based on what I’ve read, that sounds like it would be right up your alley.

I grant you we aren’t perfect: We get 10 feet of snow every year, it takes a while to learn how to pass  farming equipment on our highways and you can’t breathe within six inches of the Illinois border without being forced to pay a toll. We also have our share of knotheads who treat higher education as if it’s some sort of a Communist plot, which might not sound like much of an improvement over your current situation.

I also grant you that I don’t have fiat power in terms of offering you a job, but I’m a hell of a persistent cuss when it comes to getting important things done, so let’s figure that one out when we get there. I just think you’re too important and valuable to waste on an institution that’s treating you this way.

Feel free to shoot me a note via the contact form here if you’re interested in taking a chance on the Harvard of the Fox Valley.


Vince (a.k.a. The Doctor of Paper)

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