An Open Letter from UNT Faculty on Donald Trump Jr. and the Kuehne Speaker Series

We the undersigned UNT faculty write to profess our profound shock, dismay, and embarrassment that the university we are so proud to serve would stoop to invite Donald Trump Jr. to speak in North Texas under UNT’s auspices. This invitation evinces a stunning disrespect for women, people of color, LGBTQ members of our community, and others, and it cannot stand. 

We call on the UNT Board of Regents to rescind UNT’s invitation to Mr. Trump and to suspend the Kuehne Speaker Series until UNT administrators can devise a shared-governance process that will bring more of UNT's stakeholders--including UNT administrators, faculty, staff, and students--together to select speakers. This would allow our university's premier speaker series to meet the stated goal that it is not currently meeting: to bring to North Texas men and women who have expertise to share on topics of national and global relevance.
Mr. Trump has not had life experiences that rise to this level; he was born wealthy and hired by his father to work for a family business. He certainly has not expressed ideas that rise to this level, except as negative examples of bigotry and anti-intellectualism. His only nationally relevant actions have served to embolden the “alt-right” on our campus and beyond via social media, and his misbegotten foray into global affairs is currently under investigation by a special counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice. That anyone associated with our university would choose to associate with Mr. Trump shows distressingly poor judgment.

We understand that Ernie Kuehne and Brint Ryan are free to spend their money as they wish and sincerely appreciate that they would fund this series. We want it to become an institution of which our entire university can be proud. We simply believe that UNT's premier speaker series deserves a deliberative process that brings speakers to our community who share UNT's core values. These values include Access, Accountability, Collaboration, Diversity, Engagement, Excellence, Service, and Sustainability. Having followed his progress or lack thereof, we must award Mr. Trump an Incomplete or failing grade in each of these subjects. 
We therefore call on all UNT entities that have supported the Kuehne Speaker Series in the past to suspend that support for 2017-18. 

In response to our concerns a UNT spokesperson claims, “As a public university that supports the expression of differing points of view as part of the learning process, the University of North Texas welcomes speakers who represent all viewpoints, including conservative, liberal and progressive political ideology as well as all positions in between.” In fact, in its history the Kuehne Series has featured no such range of opinions, yet we have not seen fit to express our concerns until now. We raise our voices today because we consider Mr. Trump’s words and actions far beyond the bounds of reasonable, respectful discourse upon which the work of our learning community depends. We embrace the free exchange of ideas and seek them out from all directions, but we cannot accept the outrageous decision-making that would result in inviting (much less paying!) anyone who offers so little of intellectual, cultural, or moral value to our community. 

We ask the people of North Texas to understand that this invitation does not represent our university community or our shared values. To the UNT administration we pledge our own time and energies to help UNT find a solution to the problems of the Kuehne Speaker Series. Most important, to current and prospective students, we say: we value and respect you, and in this case we depend on you. Please help us force UNT to live up to its core values now and in the future. 

With UNT pride,
Todd Moye, Department of History
Nancy L. Stockdale, Department of History
Idean Salehyan, Department of Political Science
Masood Raja, English
Jennifer Jensen Wallach, History
Irene J. Klaver, Department of Philosophy and Religion
Annette Lawrence, Studio Art
Brian C. O'Connor
Robert Jessup CVAD
Marilyn Morris, Department of History
Robert Frodeman, Philosophy
David Mason, Political Science
Amie Adelman, Studio Art
Nada Shabout, CVAD, Art History
Harry M. Benshoff, Media Arts
Deborah Needleman Armintor, Department of English
C. Melinda Levin
J. Michael Greig, Political Science
Stephen Mandiberg, Media Arts
Dr. Jacqueline Vickery, Media Arts
Steven Friedson, Division of Music History, Theory, and Ethnomusicology
Kim De Wolff Philosophy & Religion
Terra Schwerin Rowe, Philosophy and Religion
Megan Morrissey, Communication Studies
Tyson Lewis Art Education and Art History
Constance Hilliard, Department of History
Jacqueline Vanhoutte
Mickey Abel, Art History
Lisa N. Owen, Department of Art Education and Art History
Beverly Ann Davenport
Myra Walker, College of Visual Arts and Design
Cynthia Mohr, Design
Clark A. Pomerleau, History
Li-Fen Anny Chang,  College of Visual Arts and Design
Gabriel Duran, Media Arts
Jennifer Lane, Division of Vocal Studies
Alicia Re Cruz, ANTH/WGST
Roberto R. Calderon
Andrew Nelson, Anthropology
Mariela Nuñez-Janes, Anthropology
Kimberly Cole Luevano, Division of Instrumental Studies
Terri Sundberg Instrumental Studies
Rosana Eckert
Jesse E. Eschbach, Keyboard Studies
James Ryon - College of Music
Jaime E. Jimenez, Biological Sciences
Dr. Corey Marks, English
Dennis W. Fisher, College of Music
Dr. Pamela Mia Paul
Professor Christoph Hammer, College of Music
Vivek Virani, Music History, Theory & Ethnomusicology
Tony Baker, College of Music
Frank Heidlberger, College of Music
Donald C. Little, College of Music
Margaret Notley, College of Music/History, Theory, and Ethnomusicology
Mary Karen Clardy, College of Music
David Itkin, College of Music.
Jay Allison, Department of Communication Studies
Priscilla Solis Ybarra, Department of English
Gustavo Romero, Music/Piano Area
Elizabeth Oldmixon, Political Science
Stephen Dubberly, College of Music
Karen Y. Kimball, COMM Studies
Wendy Middlemiss. Educational Psychology
John Scott, Instumental Studies
Johnnie Stark, CVAD Department of Design
Anna Marsden, Communication Studies
Donna T. Emmanuel Music Education
Patrick Coil
Kathleen Reynolds, College of Music
John Tait, English Department
Catherine Ragland
Kris Chesky, Music
Vladimir VIardo, College of Music
Jordan Frith, Technical Communication
Jehanne Dubrow, Department of English
Haj Ross, Linguistics
Patricia Cukor-Avila, Linguistics
Ricardo Rozzi, Department of Philosophy & Religion
Eugene Migliaro Corporon
Dr. Elizabeth McGee Powell, ASLP Department
Timothy Montler, Technical Communication
Jeffrey Rasch
Michael R. Gibson
*Joseph Klein, Composition Studies
*Emile Sahliyeh, International Studies
*James Swan, Departmentt of Rehabilitation and Health Services
*Anjelita Cadena , Department of FIREL
*Mary Bailey Estes, Department. of Educational Psychology
*Amarie Carnett,  Department of Educational Psychology
*Julie McKendrick, CVAD
*Mary Lynn Babcock, Department of Dance and Theatre
*Jaime Javier Rodríguez, Department of English
*Sean Miller, CVAD
*Antonella Longo, Department of Biological Sciences
*Cornelia L. Izen, Department of Educational Psychology
*Suzanne Enck, Communication Studies & WGST
*Abbas Tashakkori, Department of Educational Psychology
*Linda L. Marshall, Department of Psychology
*Adriel Boals, Department of Psychology
*Samantha Langsdale, Department of Philosophy & Religion
*Alexis Palmer, Linguistics
*Ed Soph, College of Music, Jazz Studies (retired)
Natalie Mannix, College of Music

*Faculty that have added their names to the open letter after the original time of publication (9.22.17 11 a.m.)

Header image photographed by Robert Warren
Header image layout designed by Christopher Rodgers