Letter to the editor: letter to the board of trustees


I am addressing this letter to Lehigh’s Board of Trustees, especially to the corporate members.

I have read and re-read your Oct. 27 statement, which attempts to justify your taking “no action” regarding rescinding Donald J. Trump’s honorary degree. Once again, you have offered our community the equivalent of “thoughts and prayers.” To quote those bright and wonderful students from Parkland, Florida, “This is B.S.”

I ask you to stand up, take a real stand and explicitly tell the Lehigh community why you are taking “no action.” If you are willing to do so, then we can truly engage in discussion. Stop hiding, come out of the shadows. Be brave. Be accountable.

R.N. Weisman
Emeritus Professor
Civil and Environmental Engineering

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  1. Because he is the best president, ever, in the history of the United States. Why would anyone revoke his honorary degree?

  2. Susan Magaziner, ‘77 on


    The State of Pennsylvania has jurisdictional authority with regard to post-secondary schools privilege of granting honorary degrees. This applies to revocation of this privileged and granted ability to participate in the granting of honary degrees. Should this privilege be violated, the Secretary of Education can revoke all honorary degree privilege of the institution. Dear Professor Weisman, your letter and comments are spot on. However, our Board acts with due diligence under advice of General Counsel, and comment places the institution at risk of legal liability. We are never to receive transparency, truthfulness and clarification. Although desired and deserved this is not possible and with this enlightenment I suggest that we all go easy on our devoted Board members. They are each individuals who serve with heart and soul in dedication to Lehigh. These are persons who have achieved greatly in servitude to others and in their respective fields. I trust most of these individuals have personal opinions that align with the faculty and student perspective. But they are silenced. Trust this is the case. However, should the Boards determination to not Rescind reflect violations in PA Code, such as differential treatment of similarly situated persons (Trump v. Cosby) as demonstrated in bias of class of race/color, this provides opportunity for not only discussion but intervention and corrective relief. In sum, the Boards determination in failure to rescind equals discrimination. Federal anti discrimination laws protect actions that reflect an institutions double standard based on protected classes ( class of race/color v. “ white wealthy). Just by chance we have an open US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Case on this very Issue, going 4.3 years strong now! You can contact OCR Team Attorney Meg Willoughby at [email protected] to discuss your concerns. At the same time the link provided is a beginning in contacting the PA State Commisioner of Education where a Complaint can be filed concurrently regarding abuse of privilege in honorary degree legislation that is State authority. Either way it is important to know that the answers you seek will never be granted, but the outcome you desire can and will be achieved through the executive jurisdictional authority of those who enforce the laws that prohibit discrimination and differential treatment of protected populations v. White rich men.

    I hope this helps.

    Go get ‘ em.

    • Amy Charles '89 on

      Which begs the question, Susan: why would anyone agree to serve under those conditions? This isn’t about national security. No grand objective is at stake. Lehigh’s an unexceptional if ritzy private university (bristle away; you get much past Akron and nobody’s heard of the place). But if what you say is true, a board of composed largely of professionally greedy men can take one reprehensible decision after the next and there your name is, stuck to all of them. And, supposedly, you can’t dissent. Even Supreme Court justices can dissent. I see no reason why we can’t see so much as vote splits.

      It’s not responsible to serve under those circumstances.

      • Susan Magaziner, ‘77 on

        Hi Amy, As always it is a pleasure and honor to hear your voice. You are an accomplished woman, researcher and professor. I know this because “ we “ found you. By “ we “ I refer to the oppressed, suppressed and violated minorities and foreign nationals for whom you stood up for. Aside from us close to these cases, very few readers of the Lehigh commununity will understand. But you are enlightened. As students, faculty and staff go about their daily lives on campus, the majority is unaware of the violations of humanity that occurs daily at Lehigh. The Board has written letters praising those of ethnicity, the very same who are shunned, mistreated and violated by Lehigh Administration. Do you think for one moment Amy that these same Board members know what really goes on? How human beings are discarded and degraded at Lehigh. They know nothing. The Board is kept in the dark. And they like it that way, just as it is. Staying asleep is easy and life can stay as the illusion created. Board members serve because they are honored and privileged. They are called to serve because they are rich, white and elite. They are blind to reality, because as is said in my own rich, white and Catholic world “ they are Blessed”, ie white, wealthy, elite and lost. When you say it is irresponsible to serve under these conditions, the Board knows no conditions because they can’t see. They only see illusions, perceptions and the pretty picture presented. They only know their own worlds. I have in my possession letters from an extremely wealthy female Board member sent to a PhD foreign national professor. Her words praise and commend. She has no idea of the torture this man of ethnicity has been subjected to. She is without informed consent. All of the Board is without informed consent. Just like local district school Boards, legal protects them individually by keeping them blind, uninformed and clueless. That Amy is the irony of Board service. It takes a great deal of capital to secure a Board position, and it grants a false sense of power and prestige. Who would give that up in exchange to do what’s right? To be a voice for the no ones of the world? Certainly no one on a Board. So in response, they do not serve irresponsibly, but rather serve with heart and soul and white privilege. Time to unpack the Invisible Knapsack. Perhaps maybe one day even just one Board member will grow some Brass ones. Don’t hold your breath.

        • OF COURSE you are friends. This is actually very funny. So much combined disdain for Lehigh that we could probably name you two the president and provost of Lafayette.

  3. I appreciate the Professor’s passion. Sadly, it misses all the problems that led to this event. 30+ reports to police- 2 direct reports to the FBI. Is James Hosty still working? What contacts took place between the FBI and Sheriff Israel- if any. What contacts took place between Sheriff Israel and the High School? To blame Trump for Parkland is outrageous. To ignore the incompetence and also the corruption of the FBI is just missing a much bigger and more important issue facing this republic/oligarchy.

  4. Susan,

    Can you expand on “the violations of humanity that occurs daily at Lehigh?” It amazes me that people are bewildered that Trump won and simultaneously turn around and use words like “white privilege.” I know liberals love to use it because they love to delegitimize people’s opinion but have you ever thought how divisive and counterproductive it is? Let alone racist?

    Did you catch that jobs report today? Trump is here stay. Get used to it.


  5. Dear Professor Weisman:

    Do yourself a favor and stick to writing on hydrology, sediment transport, and coastal engineering and stay out of politics. The Board does not owe you or any other Lehigh professor an explanation as to why they took no action. They are taking many constituents into account. It always amazes me the small little world and echo chamber that professors live in. Trump won the state you work in and won the national electoral vote, winning 30 states. Just because you talk to the same 10 people every day that all share your liberal views does not mean a majority of the current, former or prospective students do.

    I have an idea for the Board… why don’t they look into a hiring a new Civil and Environmental Engineering professor that doesn’t waste time worrying about politics and focuses on research and educating. You are an engineering professor yet managed to alienate alumni and donors. I wonder if you weren’t so busy worried about politics would you be a more prolific researcher and teacher? Especially given the fact that your last publications listed on your website are from 1995 with the last one entitled “The Effect of Lowering Water Table on Beach Profiles.” Seems like you are more worried about politics than advancing research and publication which would help the University and students.

    It is getting increasingly difficult to support Lehigh as an alumnus and donor. I am a donor to Lehigh and have donated to many different programs, including without borders efforts and the martindale center. I know how deeply you care about engineers without borders having been to Honduras for the past 16 years. You can consider my future donor support over – good luck finding funding going forward. (Dr. Weisman serves as co-adviser for the Lehigh Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, an organization that works on projects in Honduras. Dr. Weisman is also is involved in Lehigh’s Martindale Center for the Study of Private Enterprise.)

    You see Mr. Weisman, when you bring politics into the world of business, you run the risk of alienating at least 50% of your constituents. Oh, I may as well add the following just to continue to highlight what hypocrites all of the professors and liberals are…

    Where are all the liberal professors at all the colleges that have given Bill Clinton honorary degrees? Why aren’t they asking for the Boards to revoke his honorary degree (Michigan, City College of New York, Pace University, Tulane etc) even though he received oral sex from a 21 year old intern, perjured himself about it and was disbarred for perjury and was impeached. Are you exasperated that the “me too” movement isn’t protesting at these schools demanding action against a predator accused of rape and several sexual advances. Or protesting Hillary who was more interested in her own rise to power and attacking woman victims of Bill when they came forward instead of calling out a predator of woman. Many woman I know actually feel the liberal media’s complicit acceptance of Bill as a predator and importantly Hillary as an enabler and attacker of the woman accusers led to the culture of looking the other way for other predators like Harvey Weinstein. But yet, I am sure you were part of the professors at Lehigh who called Hillary’s loss a national day of mourning. Hypocrite. Write more research and talk less politics.

    It’s all politics Mr. Weisen, including your letter. The Board was right to stay out of politics – you alienate half of your constituents.

    • Alumnus- You are SPOT ON! Very nice response. I am also finished donating to Lehigh. $66,000 for this liberal BS? College is the last industry to ever see the effects of the real economy.

      In essence it is obsolete. Want to learn civil engineering -take an online class. Buy a text book. The only think you are really paying for is the experience on campus ($66,000 for that?)

      It matters more what one studies than where one studies. There is Harvard on one end and community college on the other. Everything else is pretty much the same. It is all marketing. This kind of stupidity by the pompous faculty alienates half of your alumni.

    • I agree completely with Professor Weisman.

      Once a board of directors/trustees abandons its moral leadership – whether in industry or academia – they sentence their institution to eventual disgrace.

      Moral leadership enabled Tim Cook to guide his company to reject demands to break faith with his customers even when it put his company at odds with his government – and kept him from falling into Facebook’s data-mining trap. When Apple’s supply chain was claimed to have Asian workers’ rights violations – even when NPR revealed many were bogus – Cook nevertheless aggressively addressed the legitimate ones. That’s moral leadership.

      Lehigh’s board is insensitive to the wave that’s sweeping the nation’s intelligent, sensitive prospective student base since the Parkland massacre. They will punish Lehigh just as they are about to punish Congress. It’s not about “politics” as Alumnus claims – it’s morality. It’s courage to be prepared to alienate half or more of your constituents when you see a clear moral path, and you choose not to take it.

      It’s what’s right. And it can’t be neutralized people like the anonymous “Alumnus” spouting Fox News’ “what-about-ism” recitation of Bill Clinton’s history.

      Those “kids” who you ignore by refusing to withdraw Trump’s honorary degree will relegate Lehigh back to its old, comfortable irrelevance. That you didn’t revoke Trump’s degree when his Access Hollywood tape surfaced…or when he attacked a Gold Star family…or when he defamed John McCaine…or when he continues to demonize the citizens of countries from whom some of Lehigh’s most valued students and graduates have come – well, that speaks whole libraries, not just volumes, on how absent of courage the board of trustees really is.

      Of course, when Special Counsel Robert Mueller charges Trump with any of the myriad of scandals that could result in indictment or impeachment, and Trump is forced from power, I am sure the trustees will, in the dark of night, silently expunge Trump’s degree.

      What an embarrassment. No profiles in courage there.

      Mel Snyder
      Lehigh class of 1964

  6. Prof Weisen, your liberal slip is showing.

    Hurrumph! I commend the Board for not being politically reactionary in the face of SJWs.

    Its a shame many white men still don’t seem to realize that “no” means “no”.

  7. Prof Weisen, your liberal slip is showing.

    Hurrumph! I commend the Board for not being politically reactionary in the face of SJWs.

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