Mike Adams

Second, an AD, if competent, can be fired for refusing to mask the incompetence of the university president. This happened a few years ago when our super competent AD, Peg Bradley Doppes, refused to take the blame for mistakes made by our super incompetent president Rosemary DePaolo. That set into motion a process of internal replacement which, within the university culture, is governed by a different set of considerations than external replacement.

Put simply, when an AD, or any other administrator, must be dismissed abruptly for failing to mask the incompetence of a university president the decision to replace is internal. It is also based solely on micro-politics.

By using the term “micro-politics” I mean that the decision is an unprincipled one based on psychological considerations. The over-riding psychological consideration is the university president’s confidence that the new administrator will simply follow the orders of the president in matters including, but not limited to, a willingness to take responsibility for the boss’s ineptitude.

Because internal replacement decisions are micro-political, the AD hired in this manner is not likely to lose his position for the second of the two reasons enumerated above. Almost always, he loses his job because he is hopelessly incompetent. That was certainly the case with our previous AD Mike Cappacio.

When the internal hire Mike Cappacio (hired because he was perceived as willing to mask Rosemary DePaolo’s incompetence better than his predecessor Peg Bradley Doppes) had to be fired for actual incompetence, this resulted in an external search. External searches for college administrators are always based on macro-politics.

By using the term “macro-politics” I mean that the decision is an unprincipled one based on sociological considerations. The over-riding sociological considerations are gender, race, and sexual orientation.

In this case, of course, Landry Mehrtens was at a distinct advantage because she is a black female. She immediately had a two to nothing lead over McNamee who has the great misfortune of being a white male. So, upon his arrival for the interview, McNamee had only one way to – at least, partially - “catch up” with Landry Mehrtens.

Only by claiming that he is a homosexual could McNamee have made this decision difficult for the DePaolo administration. But, unfortunately for him, he is straight. On second thought, he could have qualified for the job by a) getting a sex change and, b) continuing to be “oriented” towards women. This would even the score to Mehrtens two (black and female), McNamee two (female and homosexual). The tie would have then been broken by relevant considerations. In such a scenario, McNamee would win.

I your letter you also questioned why Mehrtens was even called for an interview when, in your opinion, the other candidates were so much more qualified. This decision was inevitable because the previous AD was a straight white male. You misspoke when you claimed that a straight white male doesn’t have a chance of getting hired these days. Actually, the rule at universities is that straight white males can, in fact, be hired but that the same position cannot be filled by a straight white male if its previous occupant was also a straight white male. In other words, the situation is not quite as bleak as you have portrayed it to be.

Let me conclude by saying that, angry as you are about this decision, you should not let it get you down. Angry white heterosexual males will not have to tolerate unqualified minority candidates much longer. With separate black graduations, African-American Centers, and minority achievement awards, we are headed back to the good old days of complete racial segregation at UNCW.

Before long, half of our campus will be called UNC-W (White) and the other half will be called UNC-B (Black). I’m hope and pray that McNamee will agree to another interview when the UNC-White position becomes available. I guess you could say that I have a dream.


Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.