Prof. Bruce Fleming

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by LongAgoPlebe, Nov 6, 2015.

  1. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    USNA professor of English Bruce Fleming is back in the news.

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/ma...ing-naval-academy-lawsuit-20151105-story.html

    I know there's little love lost for the man on these forums, but my own opinion is a bit more...complicated. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had Prof. Fleming as an instructor during my plebe year. He was my favorite professor that year, and when I think about the 3 or 4 professors most responsible for shaping me as a young person during my undergraduate years, he's on that list too.

    And, while I do not agree with his frequent claim that we should abolish the service academies, the fundamental question he seems to be trying to communicate - often poorly, often provocatively - is, what is it that distinguishes USxA graduates and officers from ROTC and OCS? This (IMHO) absolutely is a question worth wrestling with and arguing about (in the best sense of the word, using evidence and facts). The fact is that there are many procedures and processes the academies undertake that are completely opaque. One of those processes - Admissions - is arguably a main reason why these forums exist.

    I'm also an academic myself now. I surely can't describe the specific acrimony between Dr. Fleming and the USNA admin. If pressed to be honest, I doubt either party could identify how it started and how it seemed to spiral out of control. But I've also seen really good colleagues make missteps, then be run over by heavy-handed and brutish department chairs, deanlets, provosts and chancellors (that is, far out of proportion to any misstep). Which is all to say that I am sure there is more to the story than merely pigeon-holing Dr. Fleming as a curmudgeon, a malcontent, a rabble-rouser.

    Still, I can't help thinking that if I were able to meet and talk with him now, I'd be disappointed.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
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  2. Sydney C.

    Sydney C. Member

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    Very thought provoking post LongAgo and thank you for your perspective.
     
  3. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Tenure is a great thing!!
     
  4. Sledge

    Sledge Member

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    Disagreeing with, or even questioning, SHARP/SAPR is doubleplusungood. "They" are going to stomp you every time.

    It's a good thing he's a civilian. They'd have crushed him long ago if he'd been military.

    There are always two sides to every story, and I don't agree with Fleming on a lot of issues. But, it's really disturbing to me that the same kind of "I'm going to get this professor, college newspaper, etc. because they offended me" mentality that we see so often on college campuses has made it to and been given audience at the service academies.
     
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  5. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    I have to agree with you. Orthodoxy in any form is...distasteful, to say the least, and often dangerous. I sit on my college's Title IX committee (it's not all about giving women equal access to sports, or even all about women, for that matter). We've made several decisions and taken several paths of action in the past 4 years to make our process more transparent and to remove ourselves from processes better served by other offices: law enforcement, mentoring, social work, mental health treatment, etc. We recently had a case where a student accused a professor of sexual harassment in what quickly became obvious was an act of retaliation. The professor appropriately rebuffed the student's advances, reported the episodes to the department chair, but the student filed a false complaint. I'm glad to say the student was expelled after a short investigation, and was also charged (criminally) with filing a false/malicious report. This is a pretty extreme and rare case. But we are reminded in our work that while the system still favors men, we have to be very cautious and alert when people - women or men - can make incredibly damaging allegations against someone, with little or no cost for false or spurious charges. Purely from a behavioral-economic point of view, that's a system potentially ripe for abuse.

    I am proud of the work we do, but we are one tiny college in the country. But it also troubles me that someone like Dr. Fleming could be cleared of any wrongdoing after an investigation, then still be penalized by someone who was not part of that initial investigation. Whether it was retaliation or orthodoxy gone too far doesn't matter by then. It looks like a personal vendetta.
     
  6. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    "Academic freedom does not afford a faculty member the right to use the classroom as a bully pulpit for his or her own social, cultural, and political views unconnected to the course material," wrote Col. Paul Montanus. He was director of the academy's division of humanities and social sciences at the time of the second investigation.

    ummmm......actually Col. it does. See "civilian colleges circa 1968"
     
  7. Sledge

    Sledge Member

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    The fact that he was "cleared" by an initial investigation and then investigated again, because apparently the first investigation didn't result in the "proper" rebuke, is telling, I think.

    Or so it reads. I really have little faith in what I read or see in the news. Too much sensationalism.
     
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  8. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Like others, I don’t totally agree with Professor Fleming. But I believe SAs need more Professor Flemings. Many big organizations, like SAs, lack oversight or fail to police themselves. Is the Board of Visitors effective? Perhaps, they are. But there are plenty examples of how boards of large organizations fail to do their job (i.e. Tyco, Worldcom, financial crisis in 2008, and etc).
    If there is no dissenting voices of SAs from within, either SAs are perfect or folks are afraid to speak out.
    The discussion we had about boxing at SAs is a good example. Were SAs and their boards proactive in determining if boxing should a part of SA experience, or did they review it only after NYT reported it?
     
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  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    The worst thing about Fleming is how often he's wrong or inaccurate....
     
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  10. time2

    time2 Member

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    Prof. Fleming likes being the center of attention and over the years has consistently said/done things to keep himself in the limelight. People using the media as a form of self-aggrandizement have ZERO credibility with me regardless of how noble they claim their issues/concerns are.
     
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  11. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    Yes indeed. Higher education is full of its own examples of Boards of Trustees or Visitors not doing their jobs, or being populated with people unfamiliar with, or hostile to, the mission of the college or university they're supposed to oversee. Dissent, however momentarily distasteful, is essential to maintaining vibrant higher education in our country.
     
  12. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    What instances? I don't agree with some of the conclusions he reaches, but he is entitled to his opinions.
     
  13. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Any time he lumps the Coast Guard Academy in while citing percentages and commissioning programs.... He's 100% wrong.
     
  14. 18MIDN

    18MIDN Member

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    Article left out the fact that Fleming used the conduct system to retaliate against the mids who filed a complaint about him.

    Plus the all weird pictures of himself he sends to his classes.
     
  15. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    It did not, from the article "Fleming was cleared in an initial investigation. A second investigation by a more senior academy official led to the reprimand. It found the professor's initiation of conduct cases against the two students amounted to retaliation."

    An eaiser to thing for an instructor to is not to use the conduct system in fear of being accused of retaliation. I don't know the truth behind what Fleming did or didn't do.

    As Sledge opined "The fact that he was "cleared" by an initial investigation and then investigated again, because apparently the first investigation didn't result in the "proper" rebuke, is telling, I think."
     
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  16. Freda'sMom

    Freda'sMom Parent

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    Fleming exposed USNA's racial bias in the admissions process and the academy has never forgiven him.

    BTW - The FOIA data released supported his allegations.
     
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  17. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    And this why, in my opinion, professors should not have the ability to "fry" midshipmen. If they run into an issue, there is a reason each company has a company officer. Part of the company officer's job is instilling "good order and discipline" in midshipmen -- it isn't the professors job. Maybe we wouldn't even be talking about this issue. In my whole time at USNA, I NEVER ran into a professor who fried someone -- all they did was report muster in MIDS.
     
  18. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Agreed! The same would make sense at CGA. While professors at CGA who are officers and CGA grads have an idea of the impact of "bagging," OCS-generated officers and civilian professors don't have a great appreciation for that impact. Of course, the same was true in the fleet during Officer Evaluation Report (OER) time, when the reviewer was a civilian, but in that situation an officer had to be the approving authority.
     
  19. MAJOROFSTLO

    MAJOROFSTLO Banned

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    I live near Annapolis and have been following this issue for many years. In my view Fleming brings up many legitimate concerns and has become a classic case of shooting the messenger rather than dealing with the message; an all too common problem with leadership in both the military and civilian world.
     

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