Lehigh’s board of trustees reaffirmed its prior decision to take “no action” regarding President Donald Trump’s honorary degree from the university in its meeting on March 2.
“The members of the board are committed to doing what is in the best interests of the University as a whole,” the board said in a statement, “including most especially demonstrating openness to and respect for the broad views and perspectives of our many University constituencies.”
In its statement, the board said it reaffirms its core mission of educating students from around the globe to become future leaders of society.
The decision counteracts the opinion of Lehigh faculty, who earlier this week voted overwhelmingly in support of recision.
Doug Mahony, the chair of the faculty steering committee, said while he was not surprised with the decision, he appreciated the board’s quick response to the motion.
“I feel that this is no way was a wasted effort,” he said. “It gave the faculty an opportunity to convey to the administration and to the board in particular that there’s a strong sense among the faculty… to have that degree revoked.
Mahony said it is the board’s responsibility to look out for and take into consideration the entire Lehigh community.
“When (board members) speak, they’re speaking from a much broader perspective,” he said. “The faculty spoke from their perspective. And I think the board took that into consideration, but balanced that against what they feel are the needs of the university as a whole.”
Mahony emphasized, however, the dismay of those who supported the recision.
“While perhaps not unexpected,” he said, “I believe that this decision will come as a great disappointment to a majority of our faculty.”
Anne Meltzer, a professor of earth and environmental science who played a role in creating the faculty motion, said in an email that the statement released by the board of trustees does not address the central element of the motion, that numerous documented statements by Trump are inconsistent with Lehigh’s core values.
“By not addressing this core question in the statement released on Friday, is the board saying these statements are consistent with Lehigh’s values or are they saying the statements are not sexists, racist, and more?” Meltzer wrote in an email.
Meltzer said the board of trustees must explain how the statements accompanying the motion square with Lehigh’s institutional values.