Internal Emails Suggest FAU Administration Scrambling to Control PR Crises
A trio of internal FAU emails came into our hands yesterday and left us more puzzled than ever as to what goes on in that brittle ivory tower. In response to criticism of the school's recent series of very public blunders, school administrators appear to be directing faculty to circle the wagons.
The first email, sent just after noon yesterday by Dr. Heather Coltman, interim dean of the university's College of Arts and Letters, asked faculty chieftains and key college staff to send Coltman "any and all emails you have received" about the previous week's two fiascoes: The Jesus Stomp and Saunders' Silver Lexus (see links, above).
"The University is collecting these emails centrally," Coltman wrote. "Please let your faculty know to do the same. Please do not respond to the emails, simply forward them."
Coltman's directive went to the chairs of the College of Arts and Letters's departments of political science, history, English, music, theater, visual arts, anthropology, sociology, and languages; to the directors of the school of communication, the comparative studies program, and the center for women's studies; also to the director of the university art galleries and the manager of the university theater; as well as to the College of Arts and Letters' business manager, director of development, director of computing services, associate director of communications, and coordinator of visual communications.
Around 4 that afternoon, professors of English were graced with a follow-up email from their department chair, Dr. Andrew Furman, who, one informant surmised, "had responded to Coltman with a 'what-the-fuck?' email."
Furman wrote that he'd "received clarification" from Coltman that "the directive applies only to external emails that you might receive at random." The intent, he assured his charges, "is not to keep you from communicating with your students about these matters." Forlornly, he concluded, "Hope this helps."
The third email on this topic circulated among a group so small that, to protect our sources, we will not describe it in any detail. Its gist was that some number of faculty had received angry messages from the general public, that Coltman wanted to keep tabs on such messages, and that faculty were advised not to respond to the messages.
If the school's concern is (as the third email's author wrote) angry messages rather than (as Coltman wrote) "any and all emails," there's some sense in that. This is the Gunshine State, after all.
FAU officials failed to respond to our request for explanation of Coltman's email.
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal bite -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.