The Lord’s University
by Bryan Waterman and Brian Kagel
Under Fire: The Farr and Knowlton Cases
[p.203]News teams started to arrive mid-morning on 10 June 1993, catching BYU’s public relations department unprepared, as word that the university was firing English professor Cecilia Konchar Farr and anthropologist David Knowlton had leaked prematurely.1 By 4:00 p.m., around 150 students had assembled in the center of campus. Flanked by the media, the group circled the Abraham Smoot Administration Building (ASB) while chanting slogans such as “We are a university not a preschool nursery” and “Stop academic terrorism.” The protestors paused below BYU president Rex E. Lee’s fourth floor office window while he looked on, and flashed placards such as “One viewpoint is not an education” and “Students for Academic Freedom.” A handful of ASB employees watched from their offices, while a cluster of men in suit jackets and ties—university police and security officers—videotaped the scene. Student activism at “the Lord’s university” is not only rare but, as one noted Mormon historian points out, can be potentially dangerous for participants given the LDS church’s increasing emphasis on conformity.2
While local and national media ran stories on the firings, student organizers began planning future demonstrations. The following Wednesday a smaller group, about 100, gathered in the same place, this time with banners that were slightly more barbed: “Mormons not Morons” and “Your BS ruined my BA.” One unidentified male faculty member—a white bag on his head—told the crowd that “the way things are going, BYU teachers will not be able to show their faces in public.”3 Protesters handed out information indicating that other humanities faculty had been promoted with significantly fewer publications and lower teacher evaluation scores than Farr countering the university’s contention that she was being fired for not meeting academic standards.4
The second protest was a precursor to the largest public outcry. That  night nearly 250 people crowded a rented room in a downtown Provo hotel to discuss academic freedom with Knowlton, BYU history professor and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought editor Martha Sonntag Bradley, and others. One former student, Joanna Brooks, who had held the school’s presidential scholarship, told the crowd that the university was going through an “academic holocaust” in which students were the primary victims. She added, tears streaming down her face, that she and others were giving their diplomas back. “I don’t want to be part of what this university stands for,” she said.5 An emotional and angry Knowlton publicly accused university provost Bruce Hafen of undermining the integrity of Farr’s review by inserting a letter of reprimand in her file after the review was underway.6
The constant barrage of media attention, accusations, and innuendo left many wondering: Beyond the sound bytes and headlines, who were Cecilia Konchar Farr and David Knowlton?
Cecilia Konchar Farr: Finding a VOICE at BYU
Cecilia Konchar Farr, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, joined the LDS church as a girl along with her mother. At eighteen, she ventured to Brigham Young University, did not survive the shock of her first extended exposure to Utah Mormon culture, and returned home after a year. She picked up her studies at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (noted more for football than academics, she recalls, but closer to home), earned a bachelor’s degree in English, and graduated magna cum laude. She found work as a journalist at a time when steel mills and coal mines in the Rust Belt were closing. “I covered suicides and the opening of soup kitchens. It was like the Depression,” she later told one reporter. “To see people under such amazing stress was a real awakening for me as a Christian. I knew I had to become politically and socially active.”7 That activism gained a feminist dimension after her twenty-one-year-old sister, an alcoholic, died in an automobile accident. “I determined that what happened to my sister—the despair, the lack of vision and of options—wouldn’t happen to anyone that I had access to and could love,” she recalls. “Never again would I stand idly by and watch a woman’s life fritter away into hopelessness.”8
Farr married her husband Tracy, a fellow Pennsylvania Mormon, in May 1984, shortly before she returned to BYU for her master’s degree. Once there, she approached English department faculty member Gloria Cronin, and together they decided to educate themselves in current feminist issues. Farr ended up being the school’s first English student to defend a thesis from a feminist perspective. That was in 1987. She then returned east, to Michigan State University, where she earned a Ph.D. Farr went back to Provo four years later, attests then-department chair William A. Wilson, specifically to teach feminist literary theory.9 Part of her decision to turn down four other job offers elsewhere stemmed from the feeling that she [p.205]had a “calling to help women” in the Mormon community. “Women here are intelligent and talented, with all sorts of spirit and enthusiasm,” Farr said. “Then we circumscribe their world, saying you can only do this.”10 Two months before returning to BYU, Cecilia and Tracy Farr had their first child, Daley.
As Farr was just getting settled at BYU, she saw announcements in the Universe that led her to seek out the fledgling campus group, VOICE, founded by a handful of student feminists in 1988. Philosophically, she was a “radical” feminist—meaning she believes, like many Mormon leaders, in fundamental gender differences between men and women. Unlike the church, though, she sees those differences as having resulted in a patriarchal culture that values men’s contributions over women’s. “I think we need to change all of our social systems, all of our political systems. They’re screwed up; they’re not doing well for women in our world,” she says. At the same time, she told one interviewer, her lifestyle was “certainly much more of a moderate sort of feminist lifestyle.”11 Farr also clearly stated that while she thought it was a “difficult time for [Mormon] women,” she believed that the “church will change through revelation, not revolution. I want to change the world,” she said. “I have no intention of trying to change the church.”12
Farr and VOICE were a good fit. Her introduction to the student group coincided with the beginning of her friendship with Tomi-Ann Roberts, a non-Mormon psychology professor hired with Farr. Roberts had come to BYU from Stanford with her husband, Bill Davis, who was joining the school’s German department. (Both of Davis’s parents also taught in BYU’s College of Humanities.) When VOICE became a recognized campus club that year, Farr and Roberts began their service as the group’s co-advisors.
The following semester, in early 1991, Farr gained some small publicity when students asked her to publish two pieces in the BYU independent weekly, Student Review, one on feminism and Mormonism,13 the other on abortion.14 Although neither piece generated much controversy at the time, both would be used against her in her third-year review.
That fall, as she began her second year at BYU, Farr became well known on campus through her association with VOICE. On 6 November—ironically, during the university’s Student Association’s “Rape Awareness Week”—in broad daylight a female student was attacked on Maeser Hill, a wooded area on the southwest end of campus. The attacker repeatedly struck the woman’s head with a rock, but she was able to fight him off until he fled.15 Soon local student church wards were organizing escort services; women were told they could wait at the library and male “priesthood holders” would arrive to accompany them home safely.16 “Sick of seeing letters to the editor justifying rape, sick of seeing women blamed for rape, [and] sick of seeing women burdened with the responsibility to prevent rape,” VOICE decided to speak out.
The group created a flyer that they mass-distributed on campus:
NOTICE: Due to the increase in violence against women on BYU campus, a new curfew has been instated. Beginning Wednesday, November 20, men will no longer be allowed to walk alone or in all-male groups from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. Those men who must travel on or through campus during curfew hours must be accompanied by two women in order to demonstrate that they are not threatening. Provisions have been made for men who need to be escorted home. Contact your BYU ward or Relief Society Presidencies any time.
Beneath the text was the university’s trademark beehive insignia and its motto: “The Glory of God Is Intelligence,” giving the flyer an official appearance. VOICE explained that the idea was to show men how it felt to have their freedom circumscribed. “If men get angry, then maybe a real dialogue can begin,” VOICE hoped.17
Campus police and janitorial staff followed some VOICE members through campus buildings, pulling down flyers as fast as they were put up. But the word had already gotten out. That afternoon over 400 students rallied on campus with VOICE to protest violence against women.18 The rally and mock-proposal unexpectedly turned into one of BYU’s most visible media events ever. (The university’s clipping service returned articles from over forty-five papers in more than twenty-five different states.19) The event made national radio news, including sarcastic comments on the right-wing syndicated Rush Limbaugh show, and protest footage aired in several states on network news and CNN. National talk show host Montel Williams featured the group. Locally, over the next several weeks, Farr, Roberts, and VOICE members appeared on talk and news programs.20
VOICE’s and Farr’s place in the media spotlight drew the kind of attention former BYU spokesperson Paul Richards described in his fall 1993 Dialogue article, “Does Paying Tithing Make You a Voting Shareholder? BYU’s Worldwide Board of Trustees.” Richards outlined the difficulties BYU confronts when rank-and-file Mormons complain to the board of trustees and administrators that the university must change to fit their liking. One such letter in response to the VOICE curfew proposal mentioned Farr by name:
All of the heat is on males. You are entirely correct in refusing to do the bidding of VOICE. However, and this is important, I do believe it is urgent that you discipline the leaders of VOICE who mislead [sic] everyone with their flyer. Since they like publicity, GIVE THEM SOME, make it public. And while you are at it, make sure the president disciplines faculty adviser Cecelia [sic] Farr. Innocent men should not be treated in this manner and if you condone it you are as guilty as the militant feminists who stop at nothing.21
Farr continued to gain publicity through a number of events beginning the next year. In January 1992 VOICE hosted Aileen Clyde of the church’s [p.207]Relief Society general presidency, who stunned some campus conservatives by praising VOICE for raising the community awareness on women’s issues.22 VOICE also sponsored a teach-in to help educate students and faculty about violence against women. There English professor Gail Turley Houston discussed her goal to get a women’s resource center on campus.23 Proposals were soon drafted and signed by campus groups, BYU faculty, and staff members, as well as by individuals from surrounding communities. Farr and Roberts made a conscious decision not to be visibly involved in the organized push for the center, fearing their involvement might bring too violent a backlash. (For more on the resource center, see chap. 8.)
The most significant publicity Farr received during her stay at BYU, though, came in response to her participation in a January 1992 Salt Lake City pro-choice rally.24 (In 1991 the Utah legislature had passed a “Criminal Abortion Statute”—one of the most conservative abortion laws in the nation—which provoked a vigorous outcry from local and national pro-choice activists.25) Farr had been invited to participate by the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Utah Coalition for Choice. Her speech, later printed in Network, a Salt Lake City-based feminist magazine, was brief but packed. Making it clear that she represented neither BYU nor the LDS church, she outlined her position as anti-abortion but pro-choice. She said she was there to “represent the many Mormons I know who are anti-abortion and pro-choice. There are many of us, though most are silent because we are afraid,” she said. “Many of us are Feminists; we speak for the rights of women, and we speak for choice.”26
Farr expressed her support of the First Presidency’s opposition to abortion, but argued that government intervention is not a solution; abortion has always existed for “women in desperate circumstances” and always will. Instead, she suggested increased education and the improved treatment of women as preventive measures against abortion. Women must be trusted, treated as adults capable of making moral decisions. “Why should not women in our religious community make theological decisions?” she asked. “The same women that Mormon men trust to bear and rear their children—can’t we make moral decisions?” Farr closed with the call to join her in saying “loud and clear to our legislators and leaders: Listen to me. I am a Mormon, and I am for choice.”
The speech was covered by local newspapers and television. Soon afterward BYU academic vice president Stan Albrecht invited Farr to a meeting where he read her a resolution passed by the school’s board of trustees prohibiting professors from taking a public pro-choice position. Farr asked for a copy of the resolution, but Albrecht declined, saying the document was not ready to be released.27 The student newspaper, the Daily Universe,28 issued a call for articles using Farr’s pro-choice speech as an example of faculty activism. In the “BYU Professors and Political Activism” Issues Page29 that resulted, President Rex E. Lee affirmed that administrators, because of their [p.208]“visible positions within the university,” must refrain from endorsing “publicly any political candidate.” But “[o]ther people within the university, including administrators, faculty and staff, are free to express political opinions and hold partisan political offices.” Nonetheless, he cautioned, they must be careful not to involve the university in any way, to make clear that their views and activities are their own, and to be sure that their expressions do not “demean principles” of the LDS church or BYU.30
On the same page Farr defended her right to participate in political activism, explaining that everyone, by nature, is political: “[T]he politics we most often practice here at BYU (and in the Academy in general) are the politics of conservatism and the status quo.” She pointed out that BYU seems only to embrace activists after the issues have cooled and the activists have slipped into the mainstream, citing the school’s recent warm reception of civil rights activist Rosa Parks.31 She said, “Every day I advocate a more compassionate consideration of women in our society. Does it matter if I do this in the classroom, in the Relief Society room or in the Capitol Rotunda?”32
Michael Morris, managing editor of the local tabloid Utah County Journal, and one of Farr’s chief antagonists, wrote to the Student Review in response to Farr’s participation in the rally (which he called “the pro-abortion … protest of Utah’s new law against the slaughter of the unborn”). Morris took issue with her statement that women do not need caretakers. Mothers need caretakers, he wrote, if they cannot be trusted to spurn abortion, and so do their developing babies— to protect them from the abortionist’s knife.” Farr was “welcome to her pro-choice deceptions, but it is unconscionable that she be allowed to spread them at a university sponsored by a church whose God has vehemently condemned abortion,” he wrote.33 Farr responded, also in the Review, that she agreed with the church’s stand against abortion. “However, unlike Morris, I think the best way to stop abortion is to stop unwanted pregnancies—by improving the quality of women’s lives. Legislation is not the answer,” she wrote, concluding with a reminder that Morris himself had once opted for “choice,” in his pre-mortal acceptance of the Plan of Salvation, which Mormons teach was founded on “free agency.”34
That spring, in a session of the church’s semi-annual world general conference, one Mormon leader appeared to address Farr personally. “Regardless of how lofty and moral the ‘pro-choice’ argument sounds,” Elder Boyd K. Packer, of the governing Quorum of Twelve Apostles, said, “it is badly flawed. With that same logic one could argue that all traffic signs and barriers which keep the careless from danger should be pulled down on the theory that each individual must be free to choose how close to the edge he will go.”35 One English department faculty member, known for her opposition to Farr’s politics, taped a photocopy of the entire talk to her own office door.
A semester of continued controversy closed in April 1992, when VOICE [p.209]sponsored Provo’s first annual “Take Back the Night” demonstration, in which several hundred women and men marched down the city’s University Avenue carrying banners, protesting violence against women, and trying to raise awareness for a campus women’s resource center. “Don’t tell us there’s no money; don’t tell us there’s no space; if men were victims of abuse, you’d have already built the place,” they shouted. Television and printed news featured footage and photographs of Farr and others participating in the march (a local installment of a national event).36 The group’s efforts were rewarded a year later when the board of trustees unanimously—if reluctantly—backed a center to be called Women’s Services and Resources (see chap. 8).37
The early months of 1992 also witnessed a string of attacks against Farr ranging from an LDS Texas family who ran a nationwide conservative newsletter, to antagonists (including the Texas family’s son) who began attending VOICE meetings, scriptures and priesthood manuals in hand, “ready to put the women in their place,”38 to a March telephone death threat left on Farr’s answering machine. For Farr and her supporters, one highlight that spring was the announcement that the National Organization for Women had awarded Farr its Woman of Courageous Action Award.39
That summer at the annual Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City, Farr participated on a VOICE-sponsored panel to discuss the BYU curfew proposal and aftermath. She affirmed her belief that learning is a political activity and said, “[T]he question that arises when VOICE speaks, is not whether we should be allowed to express obviously political views, but whether the powers-that-be dislike our politics enough to silence us. This question should give us all pause.” She added that “when feminists are proudly political, and when we refuse to be silent we can, indeed, change the world. Even at BYU.”40 When later asked if she thought religious universities should be able to dictate what views its faculty espouse, Farr responded, “I think what a religious university has a right to do is be careful in their selection of faculty members. And they can hire faculty members who hold the beliefs that the institution holds.” However, she asserted, “I can be both a conservative and believing Mormon and also be a committed feminist. I think that if the university hires people, like me, who are willing to live by their standards, then I think they should give us the freedom to question. That is what makes this a university.”
According to Farr, who continued to style herself “a conservative Mormon,” the only reason she participated at the Sunstone Symposium was because her students and VOICE were involved. “I haven’t been involved at all in Sunstone, Dialogue, or in the ‘liberal’ Mormon tradition,” she said. “My Mormonism is fairly separate from what I do as a radical thinker. I am focused on how to change the world, the broader culture we live in and the broader culture in which Mormonism is located.”41
In fall 1992, as BYU formulated its first ever Academic Freedom [p.210]Statement (see chap. 5), an article in the Salt Lake Tribune reported that tensions were on the rise at BYU, as evidenced, in part, by some prospective faculty turning down job offers over academic freedom issues. The article reported that “one female professor” was read an unpublished statement forbidding faculty from taking a pro-choice stance. The article quoted several other potential academic freedom problems, most centering around Mormon studies or feminism, and cited faculty members such as German professors Bill Davis and Scott Abbott.42 The following month Farr’s stake president was directed by Utah South Area President Malcolm Jeppsen “to interview [Sister Farr] on her general faithfulness and report back.” The stake president reported that she was “okay.”43
Farr’s Third-Year Review and the “Hafen Memo”
Just as Farr was preparing her file for her third-year review, due 1 February 1993, which would determine her continuing status at the university, an exchange of letters ensued that would significantly impact the review process. Central to this correspondence was a disagreement between Farr and the university administration concerning the publication of her pro-choice speech in Network magazine. The administration believed Farr had been warned that further publication of her views would violate her obligations as a citizen of the BYU community (one of the criteria on which continuing-status candidates are evaluated). Farr did not recall the severity of warning the administration said took place.44
In a December 1992 letter to English department chair Neal Lambert, Academic Vice President Todd Britsch complained that the publication of Farr’s speech “is in direct contradiction to the instructions of the Board of Trustees and to an understanding arrived at by Professor Farr and then Academic Vice President Stan L. Albrecht.” According to Britsch, Albrecht had informed Farr that the board of trustees had reviewed her speech and “found it in conflict with fundamental Church policies on this issue. Albrecht told Farr that it would be a violation of Board and Church policy if she were to make any further statements.” Britsch cited the introduction to the printed version of Farr’s speech, which noted that to make the speech was “to risk losing my job,”45 as evidence that she was aware she had been warned. He also cited an interview in the Chronicle of Higher Education in which Farr said she had discussed the issue with university officials. Britsch concluded by requesting that Lambert inform Farr “of this violation of her University citizenship obligations and place a copy of this memo in Professor Farr’s file for considerations in any of her performance.”46
Farr responded to Britsch’s letter as the new year began, explaining that she took her meeting with Albrecht as a “conversation,” not an edict. She wrote that she, in fact, made no promises to stop speaking, as Albrecht could confirm. She also outlined her actions previous to giving the speech, which included discussing her position with her husband and her bishop. [p.211]“Both of them understood,” Farr wrote, “that I support the First Presidency’s statement against abortion but politically take a pro-choice position. This was not, in my opinion nor in theirs, a contradictory stance, nor did it jeopardize my standing in the church.”
Farr also touched on BYU’s phantom pro-choice policy. She wrote that in her meeting with Albrecht, he “read to me a resolution of the Board of Trustees that stated … that the church strongly opposed abortion, so no BYU professor should take a public pro-choice position.” She then asked him if this statement was meant specifically for her, or if it was a general university policy.
Stan said that it was official BYU policy. I requested a copy of this official policy. I wanted to understand exactly what it meant for me and other pro-choice faculty. Stan said that he was unable to give me a copy and that no document of the Trustees’ resolution was yet to be released, as far as he knew. I expected to see a copy of it released soon thereafter, but since no such release followed, I assumed the position was still being discussed by the Board.
Farr then asked: “How could a policy be ‘official’ when it has yet to appear in writing and when almost all of those to whom it applies haven’t heard about it?”47
The following month, February 1993, BYU provost Bruce Hafen—at the request of Lambert-responded to this correspondence in a memo that would receive considerable attention in the coming months. Hafen wrote that through her pro-choice statements Farr had violated her requirements as a university citizen, and then charged her with undermining the faith of her students. “A central question for you and for your review committee,” Hafen wrote, “is whether your re-publication of your January, 1992 speech … shows a disregard of your citizenship obligation under the university’s standards for continuing status reviews.” Hafen wrote that even if Farr had not intended to challenge the church’s moral authority, “such advocacy can appear to convey disloyalty to the Church and its leaders, which in turn undermines the religious faith of your students.”48
In a memo to Lambert written the same day as his memo to Farr, Hafen asked that Farr’s review committee be made aware of his memo to her as well as to several documents he was forwarding on: excerpts from Farr’s writing and speeches that had been reprinted in Maxine Hanks’s Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism and her 20 February 1992 Student Review article, “Abortion Is a Feminist Issue.” Hafen pointed out specific lines he wanted the review committee to note. “I am reluctant to interject the views of a University administrator into a departmental deliberation,” he wrote, “but we all know that the review process that begins with the department ends with the University administration …. We can work together better this way than if the reviews at various levels proceed with different [p.212]information from one another.” Hafen also mentioned a letter from a student complaining about Farr that he wanted the departmental committee to see, and noted that he had asked the student to prepare the written complaint after the student had initially delivered it orally. He relayed as well an oral complaint he received from another student following a guest lecture Farr had delivered to a Mormon literature class taught by Eugene England. “I stress that the issue here in not whether Cecilia as a person should believe or say whatever she chooses,” he concluded. “[R]ather, the issue is whether her expressions as a BYU faculty member convey basic loyalty to the Church, its leaders, and its doctrines.”49
In response to his memo to her, Farr wrote Hafen that she would never seek to undermine the faith of her students. She assured him that she “had come to my position [on abortion] after years of prayer and study and felt strongly that it was in harmony with the Church’s statement on abortion. To give it up without further discussion,” she continued, “seemed to me a denial of what I felt was a witness of the spirit.”50 By the time she made this response, her review had moved beyond departmental levels and was already being considered by her college. In view of all that had happened, as a demonstration of support Farr’s local bishop wrote a letter to be included in her review. In it he confirmed that he had discussed Farr’s pro-choice position with her stake president, who said he personally shared Farr’s position.51
When later asked about the memo he had inserted in Farr’s file, Hafen wrote that in some cases a university administrator who knows firsthand or has received important information that is “relevant to the review process” may pass it on to the department at any time—unless it is “so confidential that it is inappropriate to share.” Hafen defended his actions, explaining he “had been involved with this matter before Todd [Britsch] was involved.”52 To feminist faculty who were following Farr’s review closely, Hafen’s involvement was only the latest in a series of conflicts that pointed toward an uncertain future for feminism at BYU. In January female faculty members in the English department had been further divided after professors Mae Blanch and Sally Taylor, at a meeting of the Association for Mormon Letters, denounced some feminist positions. Blanch, perhaps responding to publicity surrounding Farr’s activism, argued that Mormonism was not compatible with pro-choice politics. Taylor added: “Praying to a female deity is foolish when we know nothing about her. Our Mother in Heaven knows her role and is not desirous of usurping the Father.”53 (For more on the controversy surrounding Mormonism’s Heavenly Mother, see chaps. 7 and 8.)
Then, only a week after these comments appeared in print, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, a prize-winning historian and active Mormon, had been rejected by BYU’s board of trustees (during a meeting when both female trustees were absent) as keynote speaker for that spring’s women’s conference. Ulrich had spoken on campus a year earlier, shortly after receiving a Pulitzer, a MacArthur fellow-[p.213]ship, and the Bancroft prize for her book, A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. The board offered no explanation to conference organizers for the refusal. Some speculated that the rejection was tied to Ulrich’s role in founding the Boston-based Exponent II, a Mormon feminist publication started in 1974. Others suggested that tensions among conference attendees over the meeting’s tendency to spotlight non-traditional women was the cause (though Ulrich had established her academic career slowly while rearing a large Mormon family). Though news stories failed to report this speculation, some remembered that Ulrich had joked that she had vied for her church leaders’ ears for twenty years, but had to win a Pulitzer Prize before they asked to hear from her. Whatever the cause, feminists and others on campus fumed and would recall the incident frequently over the next several years.54
In March the New York Times published a story on BYU’s academic freedom debates, increasing awareness of the conflict surrounding Farr.55 In a meeting with administrators to discuss the intensity of her review process, Rex Lee and Bruce Hafen informed Farr that twice the previous year, following her pro-choice speech and again after its publication, members of the board of trustees had urged her immediate dismissal. They had bought her time, Lee and Hafen said, by reminding the church leaders that the university’s new statement on academic freedom required Farr’s case to be dealt with in university channels during her third-year review.
David Knowlton: Arguing for Intellectual Freedom
David Knowlton grew up Anglo and Mormon in El Paso, Texas, where much of the population was Mexican-American and Catholic. “I became an anthropologist because I grew up with my feet in two cultures,” Knowlton explained to one Salt Lake City reporter. “I was an insider and an outsider and I had to learn to mediate. As a child I felt very alienated from the Anglo Texan and Anglo Mormon world around me.” Growing up, Knowlton was heavily influenced by his father, a political activist, respected sociologist, and educator. While a student at Brigham Young University in the post-World War II era, his father had been both president of the Young Democrats and president of the Young Socialists, both of which were campus clubs, Knowlton said.56
In El Paso his father was active in the Mexican-American civil rights movement and helped to organize anti-poverty programs. Knowlton remembers his childhood being “marked by anger at the unfairness” of newspaper stories and community accusations that his father was a communist. Once someone shot out a window in their home while the family was out. “We returned to find it,” Knowlton says, and “I remember waking up at night and seeing an armed man smoking a cigarette while seated on the back fence of our home. I remember feeling very threatened and frightened by all this.” Eventually the family was run out of town. “We were pariahs.” [p.214]They moved to Salt Lake City when Knowlton was a teenager. There he found a culture nearly as strange as the one he had left. “I didn’t understand anything in the world of Utah,” he told one reporter. “In many ways, I was as much an outsider.”57
Knowlton served an LDS proselyting mission in Bolivia, cementing in him the desire to study and understand other peoples. Again the re-assimilation into Mormon and American culture, two years later, was difficult. “[I]t was a real change to come back into the other world and to become a university student, and to quit being a hot shot elder … and to just be me.” He says that before long questions he had about the Mormon church while teaching in Bolivia demanded answers. He was taking an anthropology of religion class at the University of Utah in a department he called “very anti-Mormon.” It was challenging, Knowlton remembered, “I didn’t know what to do—there was no one to talk to, nowhere to go. I was overwhelmed by questions.” Then he discovered Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and Sunstone magazine. Articles in those journals, as well as LDS church president Spencer W. Kimball’s biography, helped him understand that just because he had doubts and questions, he did not have to “throwaway” his faith or relationship to God.58 These experiences would later aid him as he helped BYU students through their own “crises of faith.”59 John P. Hawkins, Knowlton’s department chair, would write during his third-year review that “Knowlton has been spiritually supportive to many students during various trying times in their lives. Several students have reported to me that he has helped them substantially to stay in the church when they have been feeling alienated.”60
After earning a B.A. in anthropology at the University of Utah in 1978, Knowlton was accepted to the University of Texas, Austin, where he earned an M.A. in 1982 and a Ph.D. in 1988. One of his fellow students at Austin, who later became president of the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology, said that working alongside Knowlton was exhilarating. “[Knowlton] excelled in his theory classes at UT with an ease envied by the other graduate students. Even then he had an uncanny ability to interpret and translate complex theoretical constructs,” she wrote. “He was a hard worker. ‘“ He challenged past and current paradigms in an attempt to expand the understanding of social phenomena.”61
With interests in Latin American and Mormon studies, in 1988 Knowlton accepted a position as visiting assistant professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. Encouraged by his peers and dean there, he developed a journalistic writing style and chose unorthodox publishing venues—two things that would later hurt him at BYU. Robert L. Canfield, a professor who worked with Knowlton during his tenure at Washington, said the anthropology department there “regard[s] Dr. Knowlton as an accomplished scholar and teacher, and respect[ s] him as an outstanding colleague in our field.” Canfield also reported that the department [p.215]would not have let Knowlton leave had there been a permanent teaching slot open for him on their faculty.62
After his first year in St. Louis, Knowlton learned of the murder of two Mormon missionaries in Bolivia. Outraged, he flew to South America to investigate. He later recalled:
I had been a missionary in Bolivia and I will never forget when a friend showed me a paper in Peru and inside was a picture of the two missionaries, laid out on a slab in the morgue. They were dressed in their suits with their plaques on, riddled with bullet holes. When I saw that picture it was just like a dagger had been stuck right through me and right into my heart.63
A year later, BYU recruited Knowlton when a position in anthropology came open. Although he had some reservations about academic freedom and questions about the acceptance of Mormon studies on the Provo campus, he agreed to a position starting fall 1990. Before he arrived on campus, in compliance with the school’s dress and grooming standards, Knowlton shaved off his beard and cut his hair. During much of that first year, he was involved in continuing discussions on South American terrorism against Americans.64
Shortly after Knowlton’s arrival during the winter of 1990-91, the Provo campus saw a number of peaceful debates and protests against the Gulf War. BYU was one of a number of active campuses with rallies featuring prominent faculty speakers who protested the war such as Hugh Nibley, Eugene England, Knowlton, and Farr. First counselor in the church’s First Presidency Thomas S. Monson explained his views on the conflict to one reporter: “In time of war or stress, we have no hesitancy in following the flag …. You won’t find any more patriotic group.” He said it was rare to find a Latter-day Saint in the role of conscientious objector. “We don’t believe in marches and protest and carrying placards,” he said.65 Some point to these early tensions between the church and Farr’s and Knowlton’s activism as seeds that contributed to their dismissals.
South American guerrillas began bombing Mormon chapels in Colombia in 1983, according to the Associated Press. “Within a year, chapels were exploding across the continent-most often in Chile,” and in one year, 1990, “a group called the Lautaro Youth Movement detonated 66 bombs targeting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” the A.P. reported. Guerrillas had also assassinated LDS missionaries—five between 1989 and 1991.66 The South American North Area presidency of the LDS church—elders Jay E. Jensen, Julio E. Davila, and Eduardo Ayala—would later report that their area saw approximately 44,000 baptisms a year but that their “greatest challenge is violence and terrorism, with some attacks on buildings in Peru, and similar problems in Bolivia.”67
Based on his research of these and other conflicts, Knowlton, who was coping with the January death of his father and his mother’s serious illness, [p.216]presented a paper on anti-LDS terrorism in South America at the 1991 annual Salt Lake City Sunstone Symposium that August.68 He warned that attacks on Americans had become a standard guerrilla tactic and that the church would continue to have problems until it addressed its “Yankee imperialist” image. “The guerrillas are very rational, and we have to understand [them],” he said. “Our audience has been governments, right-wing politicians and national elites. Whether we’ve intended it or not, we’ve been insecure by seeking the acceptance of the powers that be.”69
Two weeks later the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve released an official statement warning Mormons against independent Mormon symposia (see chap. 5). While neither Sunstone nor its presenters were named, it was clear that the section warning against presentations that ‘Jeopardize the effectiveness or safety of our missionaries” referred to Knowlton’s talk. Notwithstanding Knowlton’s explicit intention to protect missionaries, the Associated Press reported that the church had received letters critical of his comments. One, written by the father of a missionary in Argentina, said he would hold Knowlton personally responsible if anything happened to his son.70
Concerned and confused, Knowlton wrote a letter to church president Ezra Taft Benson. Knowlton said he was “baffled” by the church’s “critical statements” about his and others’ symposium presentations. “‘The major thrust of my work has been to clarify, for an American audience, why the guerrillas see us as a useful target,” he wrote. “I do not understand how I might have damaged the church or perhaps placed the missionaries in danger, and am actually quite horrified by the possibility.”71
While Knowlton did not receive a response from the frail Benson, his stake president, Kerry Heinz, asked to meet with him. In a subsequent letter to Heinz, Knowlton said he was “troubled” by the request; Knowlton had heard that Heinz had contacted him on instructions from his ecclesiastical superiors. “Nevertheless I shall be there in a humble mood to dialogue about what I have written,” he wrote. “I really do not understand why I have been invoked or questioned, since my work stems from the best of social science learning and is presented with great, and much tested, loyalty towards the church.”72 Knowlton sent Heinz his presentation and other related materials in preparation for their meeting.
Knowlton felt the meeting was cordial. In a September 1991 letter to his department chair, he reported that Heinz had found nothing wrong with his work and encouraged his chair to “suggest to the brethren that the appropriate means of discussing the content of our academic work is through university channels.” Knowlton added, “[S]ince the Lord’s house is one of order, perhaps it would be wise for us to argue they follow it, for their and our protection.”73
Within a week, Associated Press reporter Vern Anderson learned of Knowlton’s meeting with Heinz and asked Knowlton to comment. Knowl-[p.217]ton talked candidly about the interview, explaining that he found recent church comments about his research “inquisitorial and intimidating.”74 “It gives the appearance, and perhaps suggests the reality, that there are indeed strange limits to academic and professional freedoms of research and publication here,” he said. In the widely circulated article, Knowlton said his interview with Heinz “suggests that my membership, my worthiness, my righteousness are somehow called into question because I happen to think and happen to write. And that, no matter how you cut it, is intimidation.” BYU president Lee disagreed, saying Knowlton’s situation was strictly a church issue. “This is just not a BYU matter,” he said. “I don’t think it needs to be or should be.” In responding to Knowlton’s charge of intimidation, Lee said, “That’s life in the academic world in which there are other views that periodically will be brought to bear.”75
Other public commentary occurred when a Salt Lake City television station invited Knowlton to sit on a panel discussing academic freedom at BYU.76 When he arrived at the studio, Knowlton was told the topic had been changed to broader issues surrounding intellectual freedom in the church. Knowlton said he was ashamed of the “institutional lying” done by some church authorities. Heinz, who was sent a partial transcript of the panel discussion, called Knowlton in to meet again. He warned Knowlton that further inflammatory public statements could result in church disciplinary action against him. Knowlton no doubt aggravated Heinz thereafter when he published an August 1992 essay on Mormon masculinity in Sunstone. Using the idea that “everywhere men are surrounded by images of male virility,” he wrote: “It should not surprise us, therefore, that we unconsciously symbolize this in the Church office building. It rises, like a powerful, towering phallus, from a nest of two smaller, rounder buildings.”77
Knowlton’s teaching experience at Washington University made him eligible for an early review at BYU. After some consideration, all five members of the College Promotion and Tenure Committee opted to wait for the standard three years before voting on Knowlton’s bid for continuing status. Nonetheless, in March 1992 the committee gave him some collegial feedback (later used against him). They told him that in the area of university citizenship, his colleagues were positive about his contribution. On teaching, his worst evaluation was a “very good.” And in the area of research, his articles and book chapters, at the time under review, put him in “good standing.” The committee also noted that Knowlton had published a number of Journalistic pieces” and advised him that during the “early years of a scholarly career it is probably best to focus on professional publications.” He was encouraged to focus more closely on a single scholarly area.78 Six months later Knowlton, like Farr, began preparing for his third-year review.79
The Reviews and the Firings
BYU’s third-year faculty review process consists of seven separate levels [p.218]of scrutiny and is based on teaching, scholarship, and citizenship in the university community. First, a department committee reviews each candidate for advancement in its department and makes a positive or negative recommendation. Then the process is repeated by department chairs, college-wide committees, and the college dean. The fifth level is the Faculty Council on Rank and Status, composed of faculty members and the associate academic vice president. This council reviews all faculty up for continuing status and makes recommendations.80 Then the academic vice president reviews the work of the Faculty Council and makes his recommendations. Finally, the university president and provost review the entire process and make a final decision on each candidate.
Farr, Knowlton, and others up for review in 1993 each faced three possible outcomes: (I) candidacy for continuing status, meaning a candidate is on his or her way to a positive sixth-year review and tenure (called “continuing status” at BYU); (2) provisional candidacy, meaning the candidate has passed the review but has deficiencies that need to be addressed for a positive sixth-year review; and (3) no candidacy, meaning a candidate, even at this early point, has failed to show enough promise to pass his or her sixth- year review. In light of the publicity Farr and Knowlton had received over the preceding months, many on campus expected negative decisions on their cases. Some students discussed possible protest strategies. The editors of Student Review selected, for the cover of a 24 March special issue of faculty writing, the photographs of professors forced out of BYU in 1911 over evolution and biblical criticism. The photographs were juxtaposed against statements from one observer, Annie Clark Tanner, commenting on the controversy: “The question was raised many times,” she had written, “concerning intellectual freedom among church members.”81
On 9 June 1993—nearly six weeks later than usual—BYU distributed letters containing review and promotion decisions. Knowlton admitted the wait was difficult. “It’s been agonizing, the process is way overdue and leaves one feeling insecure,” he said. “It makes it hard to teach, hard to get up in the morning.”82 In the past rank advancement decisions had been finalized by 1 May. Some speculated that the decisions had been delayed so that the bulk of the students would have left for the summer. President Lee and other administrators denied the charge, explaining that a larger caseload had simply required more time.
Farr received a message on her answering machine from English department chair Neal Lambert, informing her that the letter was on her desk. Knowlton received his letter when anthropology department chair John Hawkins hand-delivered it to his Salt Lake City apartment early the next morning. Both Knowlton—who had been given leave to finish his book that fall—and Farr were informed they would be denied teaching contracts after winter semester 1994. “These are hard decisions,” confessed university spokesperson Margaret Smoot. “Any non-candidacy decision is difficult; it’s [p.219]not a reflection of character, commitment to the church or capability, it’s the application of a performance against the standard the University has set.”83
Farr and Knowlton were not the only faculty denied continuing status. A university spokesperson said that of the candidates—thirty-five men, fifteen women—up for review that year, the Faculty Council had recommended failing five. All five—including Farr and Knowlton—would appeal the decision. Farr was the only woman denied continuing status; colleague Gail Turley Houston received a provisional candidacy (see chap. 8).
As details of the review process began to surface (candidates do not receive access to review materials until decisions are announced), Farr and Knowlton struggled to make sense of their firings. Senior faculty in the anthropology department had voted unanimously in Knowlton’s favor. Hawkins, the department chair, also voted for continuing status but strongly suggested that he improve his research and publishing. On the college level the committee vote was split, three for provisional status, two for termination. The college committee had passed him in both the citizenship and teaching categories but rated his scholarly work as unsatisfactory. They said Knowlton had not made the changes suggested in his earlier review, and complained that his work was “I-centered” (or subjective) and not published in peer-reviewed journals.
In Dean Donovan Berning’s memo to the university’s Faculty Council on Rank and Status, he noted that, according to both the department and the college, Knowlton was a well-rated teacher with adequate citizenship. He added, though, that based on the scholarship concerns raised by the college, along with the fact that Knowlton “conveys an image … that he has placed himself in an adversarial position with the university administration and Board,” it was difficult for him to recommend anything other than provisional status. At the next level, the Faculty Council voted 5 to 3 for termination. The academic vice president, Provost Hafen, and President Lee ail agreed with this decision. The Faculty Council’s main contention was that Knowlton had not published in “recognized peer-reviewed journals in anthropology in this country.” Council chair Clayne Pope, in one letter, told Knowlton that his file “indicates that a year ago the college committee, out of concern over the same issue,” advised him to submit his work to peer-reviewed journals. There was no evidence of a change in scholarly approach on Knowlton’s part, Pope wrote.84 Much of the committee’s specific criticisms came directly from Hawkins’s critique. In an early written defense, Knowlton charged that Hawkins’s report was “misguided,” the department chair having broken with the “expected genre constraints of the recommendation form.” Further defending himself, Knowlton said the review was “overly generalized, refers to precious few specifics, and … when it does, is in factual error.”85
[p.220]The Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Academic Freedom (a group of faculty members that had convened informally prior to the firings to discuss academic freedom issues; see chap. 5) quickly distributed a document that took issue with the main points of Knowlton’s dismissal letter. The committee outlined the entire body of Knowlton’s scholarly work, including peer reviewed articles,86 and pointed out that the council had ignored Knowlton’s peer-reviewed works published outside the United States. The committee expressed further concern that the council had discounted Knowlton’s article in Dialogue,87 a peer-reviewed Mormon studies journal with a “fine record of prize-winning anthropological articles,” as well as a chapter from the book Contemporary Mormonism, published by the University of Illinois Press.
“Knowlton has, in fact, published in peer-reviewed journals,” the ad hoc committee contended. They pointed out that Knowlton, like professors in many other departments, had been working across disciplinary boundaries. “Surely publication in such cross-disciplinary journals is a positive rather than a negative action,” they stressed. Knowlton had earlier explained that he was not “adverse” to publishing in peer-reviewed journals, but said that if colleagues “dismissed” his articles, journalistic pieces, and other work “because they are not in the formal, stodgy, unread, journals of my field,” they would be making “a mistake in terms of the direction of my discipline, the way ideas are developed, and the quality of the work itself.”88
The ad hoc committee conceded that Knowlton, to be seriously considered for tenure, would need to finish his book on evangelical proselyting in Latin America and continue to publish in good journals. “But this is not a tenure review, it is a third-year review,” the committee wrote. “[I]n our opinion Knowlton is a young scholar who should be praised, rewarded, and supported as he seeks tenure.” The committee concluded that “after reviewing Knowlton’s publications,” they felt he was “not advanced to candidacy mainly as a result of the concerns about what he was saying about the Church and where he was saying it.”89
Knowlton reached the same conclusion.90 “[T]he [university] committee included the real reason I am being fired in their letter to me announcing my termination: i.e. some people find my writings troublesome in terms of their Mormonism,” he wrote, pointing to Dean Fleming’s memo to the Faculty Council on Rank and Status as evidence. According to Knowlton, Fleming’s letter91 was the “smoking gun” that explained his firing as “an issue of academic freedom.” Knowlton wrote that “some unnamed persons find my writings—by implication my Sunstone pieces92—and my public participation in debates over academic freedom and the controversy over attempts by the Mormon hierarchy to silence Mormon intellectuals, as inconsistent with demonstrating loyalty to the university Board of Trustees.”93
Ray T. Matheny, chair of the anthropology department’s Promotion and Tenure Committee, wrote to Pope that his committee had been work-[p.221]ing under a “mid-course” correction principle when it reviewed Knowlton. “David needed to be steered somewhat in this early stage of his career at the university into doing what the committee saw as their instructed duty,” he wrote. “By no means did the committee intend to condemn the candidate into being dismissed. We saw a correctable aspect of Knowlton’s performance as a member of our department and said so quite bluntly believing that he would be given time to respond.” His committee operated under these “time honored rules of evaluation,” Matheny wrote. “If these rules have changed then the committee was unaware of it and in all fairness the committee should not be used for a purpose other than what they clearly understand.” Knowlton’s denial of “continuing status,” Matheny continued, “appears to be more tied to perceived notions about his critical writings on the LDS church and its activities in Latin America than to his scholarship and potential as a member of the faculty.” Can any of us “survive the university if our professional work is perceived by someone to impinge” upon some aspect of the church? Matheny wondered.94
Others coming to Knowlton’s defense included Marvin S. Hill, a BYU history professor. In a letter to the department chair, Hill wrote that it “bothers” him that other faculty such as Richard Anderson, Louis Midgley, David Bohn, Jack Welch, Noel Reynolds, Neal Lambert, and Richard Cracroft can “‘slide over’ into Mormon studies and it stands to their credit here but it counts for discredit for David Knowlton.” Hill asked, “Why should Knowlton be punished for doing what they do? If the answer is that they defend the faith and Knowlton does not, or seems not to, then the real issue is something other than Knowlton’s professional publications.”95
Addressing the same topic, Susan Elizabeth Howe, a BYU English professor and poet, pointed out the difficulty of placing Mormon-centered works in a national market and that the logical place to publish Mormon studies was the Mormon press—especially when Latter-day Saints are the primary audience. “Because I had heard that publications in the journals of our own community were discounted in determining continuing status,” she wrote to the Faculty Council after the firings had been announced, “I asked about that in several meetings during my interview process, including interviews with Dean Todd Britsch and Associate Academic Vice Presidents Eliot Buder and Dennis Thomson,” Howe wrote. “I was assured that the Faculty Council on Rank and Status would consider the quality of my publications rather than where they were published.” She continued, “To dismiss [Knowlton’s] articles merely because they were published in the Mormon press seems wrongheaded. It discounts the value of scholarship about our own community because it is not of national interest. Are we so inferior to the national academic community that we can only consider ourselves of worth if that community publishes our work?”96
Support came from the BYU alumni community, as well. James Dykman, a three-time BYU alumnus (including two degrees in anthropology), [p.222]wrote to President Lee that while he could understand, but not defend, the idea of Knowlton being fired for his comments on the church in Latin America, “using the big lie of his academic performance is beyond understanding.” Dykman added that he would no longer be contributing financially to the university—a place he was once proud of. “The big issue is shame,” he wrote; “the three degrees that I framed and have hung by my desk will come down today.”97
For Cecilia Konchar Farr, the review process had also begun strongly. At the first stage, the four English professors on the English department committee charged with evaluating her scholarship and teaching found her exceptional in both. They also supported her claim that neither her pro-choice speech nor its subsequent publication violated her obligations as a citizen of the BYU community. Rather, they asked that it be considered an unresolved matter in the remaining levels of review and recommended her for advancement without provision.98 Nonetheless, with the rest of the department weighing in, the department chair, Neal Lambert, recommended provisional candidacy. In voting, Farr’s department’s tenured members had split: fourteen for continuing status, thirteen for provisional status, seventeen for termination—roughly the same numbers she had received when the department voted to hire her.
Lambert’s mostly positive letter praised her teaching but reported that some colleagues and students had found her to be partisan and impatient. It recommended that she be told explicitly if her public pro-choice comments had violated university policy. Lambert called Farr “charismatic” and “exciting.” He praised her teaching and commented that she had shown “considerable ability” as a scholar, but noted again that some students had complained she was ideological. The key problem was her confrontational behavior and insensitivity. He wrote that her behavior “moves from difference to contention, from discourse to divisiveness, and from conversation to confrontation.” (He did, though, observe that Farr was a mother and had shown a “commitment to family values.”99)
At the next level, the college committee voted for non-candidacy. They wrote: “Her scholarship is sloppy, reflecting failure to acknowledge and profit from previous scholarship, a carelessness with historical and textual details, an uncritical approach to sources, and the lack of a clear focus and analytic rigor.”100 Nonetheless, following this review, the college dean recommended provisional status with strict behavior regulations. But those at ensuing levels, the Faculty Council on Rank and Status, and later the academic vice president, sided with the college committee, also voting for nocandidacy. President Lee and Provost Hafen upheld the decision.101
Farr’s letter from the Faculty Council, characterized by some as acerbic in tone, drew largely on the arguments of the college committee to contend that while many students found her an “outstanding” teacher, others feared she lacked a “balanced view of the subject matter.” On citizenship, the coun-[p.223]cil continued, “her collegial behavior seem[s] to place her own interests above the interests of the university community.” The council scolded: “Using the classroom principally as a forum for one’s political views and agenda is basically anti-intellectual and antithetical to getting at the truth and disseminating it to students.”
Regarding her scholarly performance, the Faculty Council asserted that her publications during her tenure at BYU were “inadequate in number and quality, which suggests that she would not have a reasonable chance of achieving continuing status at the end of the probationary period.” Furthermore, her work did “not represent solid scholarly efforts refereed by peers” and “her publications are essays that do not have solid scholarly standing.” In summary, they said they were “not persuaded that Dr. Konchar Farr either can or will change her approach to university life sufficiently to become a productive scholar and a valuable citizen of the University community.”102
The Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Academic Freedom, in its response to the administration, wrote that it could not “accept as truthful the claim that Cecilia Farr so severely lacked professional levels of competence in scholarship and teaching that she must be dismissed,” and argued that “[d]espite official assertions to the contrary, the [review] committees did not proceed with the integrity we expect of them …. We cannot sufficiently register the disappointment and embarrassment we feel at the university’s misuse of the review process. We now fear this process can be used against any faculty member with controversial views.”
While the letter explaining Farr’s dismissal had claimed that her publications were “inadequate in number and quality,” the ad hoc committee showed that her number of publications (three articles in peer-reviewed journals, two more submitted for publication) was above the average of successful third-year candidates in her department (with 1.1 published papers) and was even above the average of those receiving tenure at six years (averaging 2.3 published papers), with twice as much time as Farr at BYU.103 In addition, Farr’s total of seventeen presentations at scholarly conferences far exceeded the average of 2.8 among English candidates approved for continuing status and even the 10.8 average among professors granted full tenure. (While such presentations are not in themselves a typical gauge for scholastic achievement, they do indicate that Farr was more active professionally than her average colleague.)
Contrasting the letter of dismissal’s claim that Farr’s teaching performance was inadequate, the ad hoc committee’s statistics showed that her average student evaluation score, on a scale of 1 to 7, was 6.14-higher than the average successful English candidate (5.9), the average for the entire English department (5.6), and the entire university (5.5). Farr was a “master teacher,” the ad hoc committee wrote. Her upper-division classes enabled colleagues to “do some serious re-tooling,” and many of her students mastered a “complex philosophical discourse, new canons of literature and new [p.224] ways of thinking about being in the world,” the committee wrote. The controversy around her way of teaching “adds much more to than it detracts from the contribution a department and a university can make in the intellectual, political and spiritual progress of the people it serves.”
On the charge that Farr had “improperly politicized her classroom or has a pro-female bias,” the committee responded that the accusers “simply do not understand feminist scholarship or the Postmodern position …. An important part of the postmodern conversation is the requirement to expose flaws in the present male-dominated system and to work actively toward correction of these flaws,” they explained. “Farr was hired as a feminist scholar and has taught appropriately to that position.”104 Reba Keele, a former BYU professor (and pioneer feminist), now dean of undergraduate studies at the University of Utah, told one reporter: “At this stage of her career, she’s way ahead of the pace. There are tenured professors at every institution in Utah who do not have the same record.”105
The extent of the university’s arguments against Farr was unexpected by most, and following the firings many observers continued to believe that her feminist activism was the real reason she had been dismissed. “Cecilia Konchar Farr knew when she took the microphone at an abortion rights rally in January,” read the lead in a 1992 Salt Lake Tribune article, “that she could be jeopardizing her teaching job at Brigham Young University. After all, she had been cautioned months before that abortion was one topic [BYU] faculty members could not discuss publicly without endangering their positions.” Nonetheless, Farr told the Tribune that she chose to come to BYU “knowing this community needed some courageous feminist scholars to stick their necks out.”106 This dominant impression was difficult to shake.
Clearly some thought the university might penalize or even dismiss Farr over her activism, but no one expected her teaching and scholarship would be under attack. English professor Susan Howe wrote that she was “very disturbed” by the council’s characterization of Farr as an inadequate scholar and teacher. “It is one thing to find Dr. Farr’s activist methods and feminist stances disturbing to the university that operates from an authoritarian model of obedience; it is quite another to try to destroy her reputation as a professor,” Howe wrote to one administrator.107
Several months before Farr’s firing, BYU spokesperson Margaret Smoot had told the New York Times that Farr had been given fair warning about the university’s feelings on her public comments. “All I can say is that at an appropriate level it was communicated to her in the past on more than one occasion that her statements went beyond current board and church policy,” Smoot had said.108 Farr, following her firing, acknowledged that “[p]eople here have told me, If you don’t stop being such an outspoken feminist, you could lose your job.” “Then, when I lost my job,” she continued, “politics was never brought into it. If they would have said, Your feminism doesn’t work at BYU, I would have been upset as a believing Mormon, [p.225]but I would have willingly found another job. But the fact they’re saying it’s my scholarship is blatantly false and unfair.”109
The firings were first publicized in the student newspaper, the Daily Universe, on the morning of 10 June, the day after Farr and Knowlton received their letters of dismissal. As noted previously, within hours of the news, two separate groups met to organize responses. One, the Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Freedom, gathered mid-day to discuss possible ways to react. Assignments were quickly made concerning who would draft responses, conduct independent reviews of the files, and so forth. The second group to convene, composed mainly of Farr’s and Knowlton’s students, including a significant number of Latin American students supporting Knowlton, demonstrated twice, once that afternoon and again a week later.110 During the second protest, students shared a microphone to announce, some in tears, that they had decided to leave the university. The protests attracted a small crowd of onlookers, some of whom heckled the students. “I think [the protesters] are making a travesty of our education at BYU,” student Eric Simpson told the Universe. “College is a time to progress, not digress.” Another student, David Thompson, agreed: “This protest is an embarrassment.” Student Matt Schneck told one reporter that he supports BYU: “Because of my faith and my belief of what happens here and how this university is run, I think that no matter who you are, If [sic] you’re asked to leave, you should respect that.”111
Others felt the protesters had merit. “I’m here because of the principle of the situation; they’re not telling us what’s going on,” Jennifer Dille also told the campus paper. “I don’t feel like we have the whole truth.”112 Protestors contended that the reasons given for the firing-poor scholarship in particular—were a cover-up for religious politics. “I think that for the administration to tell us that these professors have been dismissed solely on academic or professional incompetence is not only a blatant lie, but insulting to my intelligence,” said student Jason Miller.113 Members of the nationally award-winning BYU Intercollegiate College Bowl Team were at one of the rallies and issued a statement critical of the university: “Our efforts to improve BYU’s scholastic reputation is undercut when competent, qualified professors are denied tenure.”114 Maren Mouritsen, dean of Student Life, surprised some by saying she was pleased with the demonstration. “I think it’s very important to establish a forum for students to express their views,” she said. “I think they handled themselves well.”115
The firings were not only the state’s top news story for several weeks that June, but the New York Times covered it and CNN ran footage of the protesters. An initial concern to some students was the fact that BYU police had videotaped the event, but the university never took action against the protesters. (One student did report losing a privately funded scholarship af-[p.226]ter his name and photograph appeared in newspapers with the protesters.) On the evening of the second campus protest, crowds gathered at the Provo Park Hotel for an academic freedom forum. An emotional Knowlton said he admired BYU for its efforts to “combine faith and intellect.” But, he added, “faith untempered by intellect is a vice. I wish you could hear the crisis of faith that roams through this campus.”116 Knowlton cautioned that these actions could jeopardize the school’s accreditation, though a Deseret News article later that month quoted an official of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges as saying that he had “never heard of an institution not getting accreditation on the basis of academic-freedom violation.”117 (Indeed, Knowlton’s warnings proved unfounded when BYU soundly passed its once-a-decade accreditation review three years later.) In one of the more controversial moments of the evening, noted above, Knowlton charged Provost Bruce Hafen with tampering in Farr’s case by inserting his scathing memo in her file mid-review. Knowlton’s claim sent one Salt Lake City television reporter to the telephone. Hafen, reached at home, denied the charge in time for the nightly news.
Martha Sonntag Bradley, an assistant professor of history on campus and co-editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, told the crowd that Farr and Tomi-Ann Roberts had done more for the status of women at BYU than had anyone else in recent memory. Bradley felt that BYU expected Farr and Roberts to act “the way women in the church always have—like good girls,” keeping quiet and acquiescing to authority. When they didn’t, Bradley continued, a backlash resulted, including Farr’s dismissal. “This is a potent indictment against powerful women,” Bradley said. “If there is a future for those of us who would call ourselves feminists in the church, we must act as if our dreams are reality.”118 Bradley added that women like Farr had proven one can “be a feminist and a mother; do laundry and write books; quilt and win honors.”119 Several days later, on 15 June, a giant swastika appeared on the front lawn of BYU’s administration building, apparently burned in with gasoline or bleach, and the words “Farr Should Teach Here” were spray-painted on a stairway south of campus. The organizers of the protest denied responsibility, but BYU and the Universe tried to associate the two.120
A flurry of letters to the editor commented on the controversy. Student Brian Taylor wrote: “I’m not politically liberal, I don’t have any particular agenda to serve, or any feminist axe to grind. I do happen to know that the single most intense, gritty, uncomfortable, humanizing and worthwhile course I’ve taken at this school was Cecilia Farr’s American Literature Course. Cecilia’s course stirred me to levels of thought and introspection I had never before reached.” Taylor commented that he had recently seen a television interview with BYU spokesperson Margaret Smoot in which she said “the real issue is not ideology, but the quality of the scholarship.” Taylor [p.227] replied: “To students who have taken Dr. Farr’s classes, that is an obvious absurdity and frankly shameful.”121
Student activist Bryan Waterman wrote that with “BYU’s announcement that Cecilia Farr and others have been denied continuing status, my upcoming diploma from the English Department has taken a severe beating.”122 Another student responded tongue-in-cheek: “Mr. Waterman’s [letter] … is quite like raising an alarm that the Mexican peso has been devalued.—It wasn’t worth much to begin with.”123 One woman wrote to the church-owned Deseret News that “BYU needs to decide what it is going to be—a university in every sense of the word or a seminary. It needs to show the world it is not afraid of information and knowledge …. Perhaps BYU should sustain the sentiment expressed on its entrance sign, ‘The glory of God is intelligence.”‘124
Just as many, if not more, people came to the administration’s defense. One Orem resident said he was “greatly disappointed to see a photo of BYU students protesting” in the newspaper. Just cause or not, he wrote, students chose the wrong forum to voice their opinions. “I object greatly to subsidizing these students’ tuition and fees with my tithing funds,” he complained. “If they do not like the way this private institution conducts its affairs, then they can leave and let someone who will sustain its leaders take their place.”125 One student, Sean Noble, declared: “BYU has overcome its identity crisis” and made it “clear that it has chosen to remain a religious institution and not become an academic institution …. The idea of complete academic freedom is not consistent with the idea of always teaching with the spirit.” In a free academic atmosphere, he added, there will “invariably be something taught that is in opposition to the spirit” and consequently should be avoided. “Not because the teachings will send all those who adhere to the abysmal corners of the telestial kingdom, but because it is contradictory to the mission of the University as stated by Brigham Young.”126 One woman wrote that she supported the release of Farr and Knowlton: “I do not believe ‘academic freedom’ or freedom of any kind can be maintained when universities, organizations, businesses, communities, etc” cannot exercise their conscience in determining how they wish to be represented.”127
Several students commented on the protesters’ “childlike behavior”:
Ironically, during last week’s rally for academic freedom protesters shouted “We’re a university, not a preschool nursery!” Yet their antics more closely resembled the unseemly temper tantrum of a four-year-old than the intelligent discussion of an adult.
One time, while waiting for a bus I watched a child throw a violent screaming fit that lasted a full half hour. Well-intentioned parents eventually rewarded the boy with an ice cream cone. Although this prize momentarily silenced the child, it also taught him to scream and stomp and whine  to get attention and to provoke response. Perhaps last week’s protesters received a few too many ice cream cones in their childhood.128
Another student, a grounds crew employee, complained that she had to clean up after the protesters. “I am an early childhood major and have worked with many preschool and nursery children and have found their behavior to be exceptionally more adult than resorting to campus protesting and vandalism,” she wrote.129
Campus Debate Continues
While BYU officials insisted they could not elaborate on the specific reasons behind the firings, in response to media and faculty allegations of misconduct they did say initially that both Farr and Knowlton had been fired over poor scholarship alone. Nonetheless, with so many publicly challenging the institution’s integrity, several statements were finally issued: the candidates were “evaluated on the basis of their” performance,” one statement read. “Two of those individuals have come forward to protest the decision publicly. They have accused BYU of making the decision based on their activity in political causes and ideology,” a charge the school denied. The statement quoted Delworth Gardner, a senior economics faculty member who had served on the Faculty Council for Rank and Status. “Some of the people who are in politically active arenas expect that BYU would judge their performance by a separate set of standards, namely their advocacy in those causes,” he said. “They should be judged by precisely the same standards as everyone else, and they were.” Gardner later explained to one reporter there may be cases in which pro-choice views could be “perfectly acceptable.” But in Farr’s case that was not the issue that got her fired, he said. It was her scholarship and, to a lesser degree, her citizenship in the university. “If the scholarship had been very strong, the citizenship may not have been a sufficient problem,” Gardner said.130
In response to charges that BYU had violated its own academic freedom policy, President Rex Lee maintained in an 11 June interview that “[t]his decision was made on the basis of nonperformance on the kind of level this university wants the professors to perform on. It is not a matter of academic freedom, it is a matter of academic performance …. [N]o one was terminated for being too political,” he continued. “We do, however, expect that they teach certain things—not some political agenda.” Knowlton countered that the issue was simple: “BYU doesn’t like feminism and people who do critical thinking about Mormonism.”131
In another press release BYU chastised (administrators excepted, presumably) those who had talked to the media: “Because an appeal is available to all candidates, Brigham Young University believes that to continue the dialogue in the media and conduct an inquiry by popular opinion is not in keeping with our standards of conduct and professional behavior.” The university [p.229]also assured that the review process had been “careful and conscientious. The reasons for no candidacy have been articulated,” the statement read. “The issues were not feminism or academic freedom.” BYU spokesperson Margaret Smoot emphasized: “The university is not anti-feminist. There are feminist professors that are tenured faculty. We have courses here on feminist literature and other feminist issues. Feminism was not the deciding factor.” Lee also emphatically restated, “These cases do not involve academic freedom issues, but rather failure to achieve the levels of academic performance that we expect of our faculty members. I can say categorically that, having reviewed the record of the university council’s deliberations, the proceedings were fair, and the evidence supported the council’s findings.”132
With his committee under attack, Faculty Council chair Clayne Pope released a memo to all full-time faculty, asserting that his “primary purpose was to ensure that the faculty review process was done with integrity, fairness and commitment to standards of scholarship and teaching.” He was “confident” that at each level of the review committee members “made their own decisions based on the academic standards articulated in the [university’s] rank and status document.” He insisted that during the review process the council had not received any communication about faculty files from any administrator (except, of course, from Pope himself). “Nor was there any communication from the Board of Trustees to the Council,” he wrote.133
Several days later, under intense public scrutiny, President Lee held a press conference and released another written statement: “I have been saddened,” he said, “by … allegations or innuendoes that substantial numbers of our faculty have not told the truth. Allegations that the university is lying are false, unfair and regrettable.” He did concede the possibility, however, that the review committees may have erred in recommending the terminations of Farr and Knowlton.134 “Obviously, different people reviewing the same facts can reach different conclusions as to what ought to have been done.” Lee, however, like Pope, rebutted the perception that there had been improper administrative involvement in the faculty reviews. “During the council’s review process, the council received no communication about these files from any administrator (other than Clayne Pope, the ex-officio chair), nor was there any communication from the Board of Trustees to the council,” said Lee.
Softening his earlier stance that academics, not politics, had resulted in the firings, Lee wrote in a 20 June newspaper editorial: “[I]n both cases weaknesses in teaching and scholarship were enough by themselves to make candidacy inappropriate.” He added, however, that this “does not mean that citizenship factors were irrelevant to the university’s decision; it just means that teaching and scholarship were the primary grounds. The general issue was whether they did enough things right to be given the long-term commitment of tenure,” he explained, “rather than whether they did something [p.230]wrong.”135 Contrary to Farr’s personal experience with administrators, the president also denied that the university had an unpublished policy on professors taking pro-choice positions: “[T]he pro-choice position is [too] broad” to limit with a blanket statement, he said, “and the Church recognizes abortion in certain conditions.”136
In response to Lee’s public statements, Knowlton released a letter disputing the assertion that the administration had not been improperly involved in Farr’s review. Calling Lee’s statement “not quite accurate,” Knowlton maintained that the provost’s memo, which had been inserted in Farr’s file, arrived after lower levels had voted on Farr’s case. “As a result of the letter’s arrival, I understand a couple of people changed their vote,” Knowlton reported. He also called the letter’s timing “suspicious.” “It seems deliberately timed to intervene,” he said. “Provost Bruce Hafen’s behavior in this case is outrageous and unethical. It needs to be publicly explained as it constitutes a clear violation of BYU’s procedures.”137
A 21 June university press release addressed Knowlton’s and others’ charges:
Regarding the allegations and innuendo brought forward by the supporters of Professors Farr and Knowlton, the university has not been able to respond as fully as it would like due to issues of confidentiality and preserving the integrity of its procedures and faculty committees. However, due to an allegation made by David Knowlton that Provost Bruce Hafen “intervened” in Cecilia Farr’s case, the administration believes it is important to respond. David Knowlton’s accusation distorts the facts and it ignores the very purpose of faculty reviews. Under rank and status procedures, the administration has the obligation, not just the right, to share with a department chair pertinent information it may have regarding faculty performance. It is precisely this exchange of information that assures the faculty a fair hearing on allegations that could affect the administration’s final decision in the case. This exchange gives the faculty member a chance to respond to existing allegations and allows faculty peers to evaluate them. It isn’t wrong to share such information, indeed, it would be wrong not to share it.138
English department chair Neal Lambert also responded, in a letter to the Daily Universe. He said Hafen’s memo was written “in an attempt to clarify issues in a series of memos” between Farr and school administrators in her file. He said he had asked for “clarification regarding that exchange and other confidential matters which might potentially become a part of the review considerations as they proceeded beyond the department.” Lambert also made it clear that both the department committee and Farr had been given opportunity to respond to Hafen’s memo. “After looking at the correspondence, the department committee considered the matter of the memos ‘an unresolved issue,’“ he wrote. “So far as the department faculty vote is [p.231]concerned, I can say categorically that no one in the department asked to change a vote because of the memo in question.”139
Early in July, in a Salt Lake Tribune opinion piece, several faculty members, many active on the Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Academic Freedom, replied that “[w]e have not, nor do we now, charge any specific administrators or faculty members with wrongdoing, nor do we discredit the review process.” Instead, the committee felt that problems existed with “how the process has been implemented” and offered a number of suggestions:
• Departmental tenure decisions should bear more weight than is currently
• The university should follow [American Association of University Professors] guidelines which state that, “except in rare instances and for compelling reasons which should be stated in detail,” the governing board and president should agree with the advancement decisions made by the faculty.
• There should be a review of a dismissed candidate’s scholarship by outside experts.
• Committee members with an “interest, ideological or otherwise, in the case under review, should excuse themselves” from the process. Also, candidates should have the “right to request that members of the committee be excluded from the procedures who they feel would be unable or unwilling to judge their files fairly.”
“The climate on the BYU campus over the last year,” the professors continued, “makes unbiased evaluation of complex cases difficult. Allegations and rumors about worthiness and political views have been rampant. Innuendo had grown up around professors accused of politicizing the classroom or criticizing authority. As time passes and as charity and forbearance are practiced, we are confident that issues will come into focus and that problems can be resolved.”140
In another opinion piece, published alongside the first, BYU professor W. Steve Albrecht defended the school: “Even if BYU were terminating these faculty members for academic freedom reasons, which isn’t the case, I cannot understand why someone who doesn’t agree with BYU’s and its sponsoring church organization’s positions would want to teach here. There are numerous other universities where qualified individuals could teach and not have their views questioned … “ I would personally have a difficult time accepting a paycheck from the LDS Church and then working to destroy what that church stands for.”141 Several months later, BYU professor Eugene England would take public issue with that statement: Albrecht and others have “implied that Farr and Knowlton had contradicted LDS Church positions and spoken or acted to damage BYU and the church,” he wrote. “These are false allegations. Farr and Knowlton are faithful and devout Lat-[p.232]ter-day Saints, as their bishops will attest.” Clearly anguished, England concluded: “In defaming Farr and Knowlton—or our church leaders or anyone else—we are damaging them and morally and spiritually endangering our community and ourselves.”142
Earlier, H. Reese Hansen, dean of BYU’s law school, had issued a memo to his faculty and staff saying it was “tragic” that some had publicly questioned the various review committees’ integrity. “The implication that a large group of seasoned and respected faculty and University administrators, all of whom also hold faculty positions, would or could conspire to lie or conduct some kind of cover-up borders on preposterous.” Hansen said he was absolutely convinced of the integrity of school officials Clayne Pope, Todd Britsch, Bruce Hafen, and Rex Lee. “[F]rom personal conversations with each of them I am certain that there was nothing in the review process that was inappropriate.”143
But even Hansen commented that “if lack of scholarship alone justifies the decisions [not to grant candidacy], I suppose there are reasons not to comment beyond that ground. However, because of the public and controversial nature of these two cases, I join with others who wish a more complete explanation could be made.” He added, “But I believe that is a matter of judgment, and I happily defer to Rex and Bruce and the others on that score.”144 The Daily Universe also called for more information: “Certainly there are legal limitations to what can be said on the issue, but why not disclose exactly what those limitations are so some don’t assume that excuse is merely a crutch?”145
Another faculty member who came to BYU’s defense at this time was political scientist Bud Scruggs. A self-styled “Defender of the Faith,” Scruggs said that while his BYU contract called for “government consulting,” this did not mean statements to the media or appearances for the church, both of which he undertook on a volunteer basis. During the firings, Scruggs said BYU officials were “being slapped silly by dissidents and because of confidentiality requirements didn’t think they could speak. I said let some of us speak for you. They said OK.”146 Scruggs defended the university on local talk shows and in newspaper columns.
With over one-third of the faculty retiring over the next decade, some expressed concern that these continued public controversies over academic freedom would hamper BYU’s recruiting efforts. “Who do they think they are going to get?” asked departing assistant psychology professor Tomi-Ann Roberts. “Who would want to come here in this kind of environment?” To the same reporter, BYU sociologist Martha Nibley Beck said, “There is a general atmosphere repressive to free inquiry [at BYU]. They can’t pretend to be like a secular university while they’re dictating the way professors can pursue various lines of thought.” Reportedly, President Lee was “astounded” by what he said were false rumors about BYU’s recruiting ability. “The people we have always wanted to have are both highly qualified intel-[p.233]lectually and highly devoted to the mission of BYU,” he said. “And there’s no shortage of quite qualified applicants.”147
Nationwide media coverage continued on and off that summer, noting that several scholars were considering quitting or had already quit the university, including Harold Miller, dean of general and honors education (since returned); Tomi-Ann Roberts and Bill Davis; and sociologist Bonnie Mitchell.148 Miller told reporters BYU did not want to be a “university in the traditional sense of an institution given to unbounded enquiry.” Mitchell said she felt “betrayed, disappointed and saddened by what I believe to be the dishonesty of those I have been taught to trust. I must at least stand as a witness and state loudly and clearly that I believe BYU has acted wrongly, dishonestly and unfairly.”149 Without explanation, in July BYU “rotated” its women’s conference director, Carol Lee Hawkins, from her position, an event many associated with the administration’s banning of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich from speaking at the conference.150 This move prompted Martha Nibley Beck and her husband, John Beck, both to leave the university and, eventually, the church.151 That summer Martha Sonntag Bradley announced her resignation, as well. (For more on Bradley, see chap. 7.)152
During August graduation ceremonies, Faculty Council member Delworth Gardner,153 a future author of BYU’s response to Knowlton’s appeal, suggested that the most pressing threat to universities in the 1990s “comes from mounting pressure” to effect political and social change. Drawing on the rhetoric of the larger American “culture wars,” he said that this politicizing of the academy “ultimately weakens if not destroys its traditional missions of education and training.” Gardner asserted that a university’s role was best confined to scholarly work. “In this century alone, we have already seen too many terrifying examples of universities being used as propaganda factories to push some extreme and hateful ideology. Our classrooms, laboratories, and studios must not be utilized as vehicles for political propaganda or to plan and organize social and economic reforms,” he said. “Surely these functions can best be left to our democratic political and judicial institutions.”154 (For more on the American culture wars, see chap. 10.)
Later that month, at the annual University Conference, in thinly veiled references to Farr, Provost Hafen called the summer’s academic freedom controversies “growing pains” as BYU was “emerging as a major university of genuine national stature.” He also discussed what kinds of feminism were appropriate for BYU. He said that while BYU favors “equity” feminism, it has no place for “radical” feminists. “Some proponents of change,” he said, “put power-oriented ‘activism’ ahead of rational discourse in their teaching and scholarship, a step that raises troubling questions for those who thought universities were designed to liberate us from making decisions in the streets.” Quoting a New York University professor, he continued, “Academic freedom [to some of these people] means [their] freedom to be hired and tenured without the inconvenience of competition or the necessity of [p.234]producing real scholarly work.”155 Rex Lee, during the same conference, agreed that BYU’s academic freedom issues were merely “growing pains”—a sign of the school’s strength, not weakness.156
Also speaking at the conference, Apostle (and trustee) Neal A. Maxwell reiterated that BYU would not be “secularized,” like other prominent religious universities. If religion and scholarship cannot be successfully united, he maintained, there is no way to justify the university to tithing payers and other supporters. “To seek and to maintain a consecrated, bilingual faculty who speak both the language of scholarship and also of faith-requires retaining and recruiting those with unarguably good scholarship and also with testimonies born of the spirit.” He added: “Such individuals need never look anxious over either shoulder.”157 Church Commissioner of Education Henry B. Eyring told faculty that they must pull together during times of opposition. He added that proper recruiting and increased faculty dedication mean that fewer corrections would have to be made in future tenure reviews,158 a statement some took as an inadvertent admission that the firings were religiously motivated after all.
Appealing negative decisions regarding continuing status is a five-step process: (1) the candidate notifies the academic vice president of his or her decision to appeal; (2) the academic vice president releases the candidate’s personnel file to him or her; (3) the candidate formally appeals the decision to the Academic Vice President’s Council, composed of faculty members selected by the administration; (4) the Academic Vice President’s Council reviews the candidate’s case and makes a recommendation; and (5) the university president and provost review the council’s recommendation and reach a final decision.
At the end of September 1993—the same month that saw the excommunication of several high profile Mormon writers (see chap. 7)—Knowlton and Farr officially filed their appeals. Knowlton’s exhaustive appeal—l,020 pages of letters of support, published articles, student evaluations, and arguments—was perhaps best summarized by his department chair, John P. Hawkins. The first point Hawkins made in Knowlton’s defense was that BYU had previously been officially “defined as an undergraduate teaching university with a significant but not dominant research interest or component.” He outlined how Knowlton had spent much of the past three years preparing new classes—about two a semester. “Thus, the current negative decision at the university committee level, phrased solely in terms of inadequate research record, penalizes Dave Knowlton for having acted in the best interests of the defined primary function of the university—that of teaching.” In addition, Hawkins wrote, administrators seemed to ignore that the “goal of the third year review is to give corrective advice in the process of [p.235] establishing that the candidate shows promise of meeting criteria for continuing status.”
In outlining Knowlton’s “promise,” Hawkins pointed to his three refereed journal articles, defending the value of having published in each venue and noting that Knowlton had received a Fulbright fellowship to Argentina. “Again, this indicates external peer respect and review,” Hawkins wrote. “I would note for comparative purposes that I, his senior professor and Chair in the department, have applied for and been rejected in a Fulbright application.” He also outlined Knowlton’s extensive conference-presentation record: “With this level of achievement at the third year review, the university flirts with ridicule to contend that this professor has not shown sufficient promise.”
After his six or seven years of service on college and department promotion and tenure committees, Hawkins believed that third-year reviews were only used to fire someone in instances of “the clearest evidence of dereliction of duty.” Knowlton “presents no evidence of dereliction,” he continued. Finally, Hawkins moved to the “larger issues” in Knowlton’s case. “[T]his decision changes the nature of the third year ‘review’ into a third year tenure decision. All future reviews will have to be conducted under the new rules, to include getting letters of external review. But the letters would have to be solicited at the beginning of the candidate’s third year. This is simply too early in a career. I am afraid that we would become the laughing stock among universities. Reviewers would either ignore us, or decline, or give perfunctory ‘of course,’ or ‘I can’t tell, it’s too early.’”
Hawkins also thought that BYU’s treatment of Knowlton “expose[s] the university to lawsuit, for there is a kind of ex post facto alteration of expectations and a deviation from our own written documents.” He said that it “looks like Dave Knowlton is being held to a higher publication standard than many of his peers in this group, and this is also the case for prior third year review reference groups.” He went on: “If indeed Knowlton is being removed for his participation in Sunstone, then one member of the law school holds that we must have an explicit written policy that speaking at a community academic/intellectual forum is an impermissible activity,” Hawkins wrote. “Again, … there is an ex post facto matter that will surely come to haunt us.”159
Knowlton’s appeal materials also emphasized that the Faculty Council on Rank and Status had confused writing style and the presentation of research with quality. Writing in his own defense, Knowlton stressed that official deliberations over his scholarship were influenced by “public controversies over the Sunstone symposia, Sunstone magazine, and consequently academic freedom.” According to Knowlton, Clayne Pope had told him in an interview on 2 August 1993 that the faculty council’s discussion focused “substantially” on his Sunstone writings. “Most of the Council members had read them, while only two who presented my record read [p.236]my academic writings,” Knowlton reported. “As a result the deliberations were dominated by the fact that some members simply disliked what I had written.”160
Delworth Gardner, the council’s representative at Knowlton’s appeal, argued that the Faculty Council needed to be rigorous in their reviews since close personal relationships develop in departments which may “lead to a form of cronyism and militate against objectivity.” Nonetheless, he continued, the council “rarely gets the kind of thorough, penetrating, and substantive review of a candidate’s work” that it had from the anthropology department on Knowlton.
However, in dismissing Knowlton’s Sunstone work, Gardner quoted Hawkins:
The discourses are not subject to external critique within the canons of anthropology. and there is not enough data from outside Knowlton’s personal feelings to establish an adequate persuasion of those within the system. … By choosing words and images that in the academic domain are zesty, but in the Mormon cultural domain are taboo, Knowlton guarantees a failure of communication. In so doing, he adds to the divisiveness that he decries in the actions of others …. He is acting as an intellectual and critic, rather than as a scholar and academic.
Gardner then disparaged Knowlton’s “so-called peer-reviewed articles” because they were “I”-centered and “have many of the same methodological problems as the Sunstone pieces.” Accordingly, Knowlton did not merit “serious consideration for candidacy” because his research “lack[ed] … scientific quality.” Gardner stressed that a young scholar needs to publish in refereed journals in his discipline, something the committee was “pessimistic” Knowlton would ever do. “Knowlton’s attitude toward the ‘stodgy’ and ‘unread’ journals as revealed in his personal statement and in his appeal document provides evidence that he does not see the necessity of publishing in the anthropological journals,” Gardner said. “‘The College committee argues that he has continued to pursue a career as an essayist rather than that of a research scholar,”
Gardner refuted the idea that the controversial nature of some of Knowlton’s writings impacted the decision not to grant candidacy: “‘The Council’s letter stated that some members of the Council felt that Knowlton’s writings, interpreted as critical of the Church, were ‘detrimental to the underlying purposes of the University.’ This is true, but other Council members did not see this as a problem, and my judgment is that the issue had only a very minor, if any, impact on the Council’s ultimate decision.”
The bottom line, Gardner believed, was that BYU only considers termination if it believes a faculty member is “irretrievably set on a course that would prove to be [ academically] unacceptable at the time of the continuing status review,” He added: “And this is the answer to those letters which [p.237]argue that the university’s decision on termination was premature and based on flimsy evidence. The judgment of the majority of the Council was that Dr. Knowlton would not change because he saw no reason to change because what he was doing was just right for him.”161
Clearly frustrated, Hawkins countered that if Gardner “feels I made one of the most insightful analyses of a candidate, I would have liked to ask, ‘why then would the committee have ignored my clear statement that Dave Knowlton merited candidacy,’ since he presumably couldn’t have thought me ignorant or incompetent after that kind of praise of my analysis.” In response to Gardner’s statement on cronyism, Hawkins wrote, “I would point out that the department has denied tenure to two out of the last three candidates, Joel Janetski being the first new continuing faculty status receiver in ten years. Moreover, one additional third year review candidate gave up after a stern third year review. So, in our own house-keeping, we have pushed out 3 of the last 4 …. These evidences do not suggest any departmental weakness.”162
According to Knowlton, during the appeal Rex Lee passed him a handwritten note in Spanish requesting a private meeting afterwards. When they met, Lee invited Knowlton to resign, explaining that the board of trustees would not allow him to rule favorably on the case. Knowlton said he would consider resigning if he could get “a couple of years severance—minimum.” Lee answered that he would see what he could do. On 11 October, when Knowlton called to follow up, Lee said he had taken the proposal to the board and that no severance package could be offered.
A few days after Knowlton made his case before the Academic Vice President’s Council, Cecilia Konchar Farr presented her defense. Farr’s appeal consisted of materials from her lawyer, Brent Rushforth, along with professors William A. Wilson and Eugene England. Farr’s defense is best summarized by Wilson’s statement, the most extensive document reviewed by the council. Wilson wrote that participating in the appeals process “may prove to be the most painful endeavor of my career,” adding that he “know[s] and like[s] all the principals in this case” and has long counted them as friends. “A couple of weeks from now some of them may not consider me theirs,” he wrote, “but I have to do what I believe to be right.”163 Wilson minced no words. “Let me make clear, as the department chair at the time Professor Farr was hired, that she was hired to pursue a feminist agenda,” he argued. “We were not much worried about her—subverting the department since the department is full of people, and still is, who would teach from traditional points of view.164 It is discouraging now to see Professor Farr punished for doing what she was hired to do.”165
Wilson contended that an obvious bias existed on the college committee. He called the council’s attention to the fact that the chair of the college committee, Richard Cracroft, had opposed hiring Farr three years earlier. Cracroft had that said “he couldn’t see why we would want her here, ‘dis-[p.238]comfiting our women students,'”166 Wilson wrote. And prior to Farr’s review, Cracroft had been overheard to say he had already “washed [his] hands of her.” In addition, Cracroft had been outspoken in opposing postmodern approaches to literature and to expanding the literary canon, both of which Farr advocated.167 “More important,” Wilson continued, “[Cracroft] viewed this paradigm shift [toward postmodernism] as counter to gospel truths.”168 Responding to the college committee’s and others’ charge that Farr’s “revisionist” approach to the cannon was “political,” Wilson stressed:
What the College Committee completely ignores is that for decades the department has had only one mode of discourse, formalist criticism; only one body of literature of major import, the traditional canon; and near total focus on only one ideological concern, the study of primarily white male authors. No one charges those still clinging to these monistic points of view with being politically motivated. But now, when an increasing number of faculty members, primarily but not exclusively junior faculty, seek to break free from these confining molds, they are called political, intellectually dishonest, disruptive, manipulative, ideologically partisan.169
He argued that Cracroft should have disqualified himself from the college committee whose evaluation, he thought, determined the final outcome of the review.170
In his defense of Farr, Eugene England argued point-by-point that the college committee’s description of Farr’s scholarship was “simply not true.” Since coming to BYU, Farr had produced two chapters, one article, three reviews, eleven scholarly papers, five lectures, four informal essays, one book manuscript, and the draft of most of another. “Professor Farr’s scholarship, at this early point in her career, is not of obvious ‘star’ quality but it is well above average by national standards and certainly more than sufficient to pass a third-year review at BYU at our present level of expectation,” he wrote.171 England identified several examples of what he called the college committee’s “small-minded, even mean-spirited” focus in its review, such as taking Farr to task once for capitalizing the “D” in Latter-day Saints or misspelling the title of a French work. He also criticized the college committee for apparently not reading available chapters from Farr’s book manuscripts as well as ignoring portions of her work that give evidence that Farr is a “moderate feminist, loyal to the Church and its values.”172 “[T]his kind of nit-picking and partial argument for one interpretation should not be going on in third-year review for candidacy,” he wrote. “And I do not believe it has gone on in any other case.”173
Like England, Wilson also made a case for Farr’s teaching and citizenship, pointing out places in which the committee had tried to mask its true intentions. He suggested at one point that the committee’s “misrepresentations,” if “knowing and willful, are of a character serious enough to be ac-[p.239]tionable violations of the Honor Code.” One example was the committee’s charge that Farr had “subverted” departmental expectations when she taught an American literature course (English 293) by spending more time on some non-traditional authors than on canonical standards such as Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Robert Frost. Wilson explained that while the college committee had been “accurate in saying that Professor Farr has not devoted enough time to some of the authors in the syllabus,” the course had been recently modified and was not designed to be a survey course something, incidentally, Cracroft had learned the hard way following his assignment as an LDS mission president:
When [Cracroft] returned he was assigned English 293. Still operating under the “survey” and “coverage” principles of the old curriculum, he looked at the [new] syllabus, didn’t like it, and worked into the course a full curriculum drawn from the traditional canon. If any course ever “subverted” (Professor Cracroft’s word) departmental expectations, it was this one. He nearly killed off an entire class of English majors. A chorus of complaints echoed through the building; his teaching evaluations, which had always been high (he is a superb teacher), plummeted. Chastened, he talked with me after the class. I told him to follow the curriculum, that it was his best protection.
Wilson added that Cracroft had revised his syllabus and his teaching evaluations came back up. However, the “charity accorded [Cracroft]—no one scolded or took punitive action—seems not available for Professor Farr. Surely she also needs a chance to learn from experience.”174 Finally, Wilson addressed three key situations that had been used against Farr in her review: the letters and statements Hafen and Lambert had added to her file; a heated exchange between Farr and BYU linguistics professor John Robertson; and comments made by Farr at an English department faculty retreat in 1992.
Wilson argued that Hafen’s memo should not have been inserted into Farr’s file-before or after the review process had begun. “Most faculty members who have paid any attention at all to current events know that some members of the Board of Trustees want Professor Farr dismissed,” he wrote. “Provost Hafen’s memo suggesting that Professor Farr had knowingly violated the wishes of the Board makes impartial judging” on the review committee’s part extremely difficult.175 Hafen claimed that Farr had clearly understood that she should not publish her speech from the 1992 pro-choice rally; Farr, who published the piece, said there was no such understanding between them.176 As he read Hafen’s memo, Wilson felt “almost as though I were listening to a bishop divulge confidential information about a ward member, private information I have no business knowing.”177 He concluded that “[s ]hort of receiving personal revelation, no member of any of the review committees could resolve the disparity between Provost [p.240]Hafen’s and Professor Farr’s statements. Therefore, this conflict should not have been part of the review process at the committee levels.”178 Wilson also argued that other correspondence had been unfairly inserted into her file, including student complaint letters; Farr had no way to respond, nor had Hafen and those who had inserted them into the file made any attempt to verify the charges.
Wilson turned to Farr’s encounter with linguistics professor John Robertson, who had earlier written a paper entitled “Aspects of the Theory and Practice of Feminism Which Are Antithetical to the University.” The paper had circulated through the English department, and while much of it irritated a number of professors, including Farr, one passage that compared academic feminists to Nazis and the Khmer Rouge was particularly offensive.179 Farr complained to Academic Vice President Stan Albrecht and copied the letter to the Project on Antifeminist Harassment of the Modern Language Association’s Committee on the Status of Women. “I did not mean this as an act of hostility toward Dr. Robertson or betrayal toward the university,” Farr explained in her defense. “I believed Dr. Robertson’s broad-based attack demanded an institutional response in accordance with BYU’s responsibilities to eliminate barriers to the progress of minorities and women.”180
Wilson wrote that “[s]uch an action is in keeping with today’s practice of meeting pressure with pressure,” but added: “I wish Professor Farr had not taken this action, at least not until the issue had been resolved at BYU.” Farr had told Wilson that she would now handle the matter differently. Nevertheless, Wilson added his own belief that Robertson’s paper “does constitute a form of harassment that should have brought a university response.”181 The incident had affected the review process after Robertson, feeling that he had been treated unfairly by Farr, had demanded that a memo outlining his complaint be added to her file. It was added, and Farr was not given an opportunity to respond, in writing, for the review committees. Wilson said, as with the Hafen memo, Robertson’s memo constituted unwarranted and irregular interference.182
Wilson also addressed an incident within the English department that had been used against Farr in her review. In light of fictionalization that threatened the department’s unity, faculty members had gathered for a retreat in February 1992. At the end of a day of heated debate, Eugene England had suggested they “work to love and forgive each other based on the idea that the department is much like a family.”184 As one faculty member recalled, “Cecilia stood up and objected publicly. She said that all too frequently the concept of family placed persons in certain roles that she felt were inappropriate for a university department. She said that, as a junior woman, she did not want to be cast in the role of ‘anyone’s dutiful daughter.”184 Other faculty members added that Farr also said she did not want to be one of the “women scrubbing toilets and changing diapers.”185
[p.241]In discussing the incident in her appeal, Farr wrote that the purpose of her comment was to share with my colleagues my concern that the concept of “family” has very different connotations for many people—especially for many women I know. Indeed, research shows that women most often suffer abuse (physical, sexual and emotional) and death at the hands of the “family.” This is a painful truth about a problem that I deal with intellectually, politically and, with my friends and students, personally. I felt strongly the need to share this with the others at the retreat and to invite them to rally around a different metaphor—collegiality—for our interaction.186
Wilson wrote that he was in Finland during that “fateful day” so he only knew what had been reported to him.187 But because department chair Neal Lambert had cited it as an example of Farr’s confrontational style, Wilson felt it needed to be addressed. “Without question many faculty members were, as Professor Lambert states, shocked, and angry—so angry that some of them cited this event when voting against Professor Farr’s candidacy for continuing status.” What frustrated Wilson, however, was that “[n]either Professor Lambert nor the committee mentioned that Professor Farr’s statement, though the last of the day, was only one of many strong, emotionally charged statements made during the retreat. And neither mentioned that Professor England, who was the faculty member who introduced the metaphor, was not offended by Professor Farr’s reply, that he was, in fact, converted by it.”188
At the end of the appeal, Wilson exhorted BYU to re-examine seriously Farr’s case, adding, “Those who would make [Farr] the scapegoat for our own inabilities to deal effectively with one of BYU’s most trying social issues will quickly discover that once she leaves the campus a dozen others will take her place—either that or all BYU’s feminists will leave, and we will be on our way to that monolithic world the College Committee fears.”189
Following the appeal, Brent Rushforth, Farr’s attorney, said he found the hearing to be “thorough” and “fair.”190 Of his own appeal, David Knowlton was “impressed with the Academic Vice-President’s Council and their willingness to look at the issues.”191 Farr and Knowlton were both told a decision would be made within six to eight weeks.
On the last day of November 1993, BYU announced the results of the appeals. In the five promotion cases appealed, Knowlton’s and three others had been denied. Farr, the university reported, had withdrawn her appeal as part of a settlement with BYU.192 Although Knowlton’s original letter of dismissal had stipulated that his teaching was very good to excellent, his university Citizenship strong, and only his scholarship deficient, the letter denying his appeal charged that his “record since coming to BYU does not meet the [p.242] University’s standards for candidacy due to deficiencies in your scholarship and in your citizenship.”193
The joint statement released by BYU and Farr stated that they had reached a settlement, although they agreed not to say if money was involved. (Sources close to Farr say that the arrangement included a year’s salary,194) “Professor Farr and BYU disagree amicably but irreconcilably over what constitutes the citizenship requirement of a BYU faculty member,” the statement read. For some, the settlement was a clear indication that at issue was only Farr’s citizenship. But others saw the resolution as an indication that the question of Farr’s scholarship and teaching would go unanswered. What went unnoted by many was that over the course of the previous year “university citizenship” had gone from meaning participation on committees and contributing in non-academic ways to the university community to serving as a synonym for “church loyalty.” The latter meaning remained fixed in academic freedom cases that would follow (see chap. 8, esp.).
Farr was pleased with the outcome in her case but was not surprised with the decision reached in Knowlton’s. “It was clearly a board of trustees’ decision and not a faculty decision,” she said.195 Knowlton, on the other hand, told reporters that he was “quite shocked.” “I had hoped that reason would prevail. It obviously hasn’t,” he said, adding that he had asked his lawyers to review the decision.196 Later, when asked about Farr’s charge that the decisions had come from the board of trustees, BYU spokesperson Margaret Smoot responded, “There wasn’t any kind of mandate on how to decide these.” She did acknowledge that Lee had discussed the appeals with the board. Nonetheless, “[t]his was Lee’s decision.”197
Protesting students secured a permit for one last rally, though they were told they would have to use a more out-of-the-way location than they had that summer. Knowlton was out of town, guest teaching at Colorado College, but Farr attended. Wearing an oversized flannel shirt and a thick corduroy jacket, she struggled to keep the frigid December air out. Holding a microphone in one hand, and balancing her ten-month-old, Tanner, on her hip, she read a brief statement to the 250 students and faculty gathered. She said she was happy to “revoke” the “vow of silence” her lawyer had mandated during the appeal process. “Right now it has become too difficult for a Mormon to be a feminist at BYU,” she confessed. “I have spent all my time trying to convince people that I actually have a temple recommend, that I actually believe in God.” Margaret Smoot, irritated by Farr’s comments, told the press, “Cecilia continuing to repeat this same note, using the moniker of feminism, does a disservice to those people who know how truly complex this case has been.” She added: “I’m sure we will continue to discuss the spectrum of views and we won’t all agree, but feminism is not the whole reason why Cecilia now finds herself where she is.’’198
After the speak-out, students marched to the administration building, singing traditional Mormon hymns such as “O Say, What Is Truth?” and [p.243]“Do What Is Right.” Two students came together to the protest in a camel costume “to call BYU to repentance” for opposing freedom of thought.199 During the march the group encountered President Lee. Farr and Lee smiled, shook hands, and continued on in opposite directions. When asked by reporters to comment, Lee said, “Academic freedom is alive and well at BYU and always has been.” However, he added, there is “an expectation that people will not use the resources provided by the Church to harm the Church.”200
“They did the right thing by taking back what they said about my teaching and scholarship,” Farr commented to one reporter during the rally. “I don’t think they’ve done the right thing by putting me in a position where I was forced to resign.”201 Farr’s remarks frustrated school officials. One press release read: “As the university disagrees substantially with several published reports of comments made by Professor Farr, we believe it is important to reiterate simply that the agreement between BYU and Dr. Farr did not reject or modify the earlier decision reached by the university-wide Faculty Council on Rank and Status. No final decision was reached on her teaching, scholarship and citizenship as she withdrew her appeal.”202
In April 1994, during a VOICE-sponsored final farewell at the end of her last semester, Farr discussed with students and faculty her tenure at BYU, from VOICE to the pro-choice rally to her firing. “Looking back at these last four years, I can say I’d do it again,” she said. “I believe in this university.” She had tried many times to learn from BYU officials what she had done wrong. “Somehow they conceived in their heads that I wasn’t a good enough Mormon to be here”—something that had been painful for her. Farr told the standing-room-only crowd that she realized that some who had harmed her had done others a lot of good. “Trying to figure out how to live with it has been a spiritual challenge.”203
A week following the announcement of the appeals, a group of thirty-two professors and faculty members signed a letter supporting BYU’s decision to fire Farr and Knowlton. Steve Albrecht, director of the School of Accountancy, and Douglas Smoot, dean of the College of Engineering and Technology, co-authored the letter to voice what they felt were the opinions of the “vast majority” of the faculty. “By far the majority—I’d say 95 percent of the faculty are supportive of the process,” Albrecht contended.204 “We acknowledge that BYU faculty are restricted from public statements that are considered to be harmful to the mission of the university or the church,” the letter read. “We also believe that there are common constraints of one kind or another on faculty at most institutions.’’205 Albrecht told one reporter that those who had signed the letter were only a representative sample: “We could get 1,000 to sign,” he felt, and only three or four refused to sign the letter when asked.206
[p.244]In early January 1994 an unsigned memo, leaked to the Associated Press and eventually traced to the author, administrator Alan Wilkins, revealed new university wide hiring policies. Aside from an increased emphasis on LDS applicants, the new procedures mandated that all candidates would need preliminary and final clearance from the board of trustees (previously, church leaders had given only the final approval). Also, greater attention would be paid to personal characteristics such as age, marital status, church callings, and bishop’s recommendations. (The legality of asking these questions would later be challenged; see chap. 10.) “In assessing the relative strength of competing candidates, no factor is more important than deep religious faith and loyalty to the church,” Wilkins wrote. “We should not hire people who are a threat to the religious faith of our students or a critic of the church and its leaders.”207 Not long after, a poll conducted for the Deseret News found that 71 percent of Utah County residents believed that BYU professors had “about the right amount” of academic freedom. History professor Douglas Tobler told the News that the media had distorted the Farr and Knowlton firings. He thought that “for the most part, the faculty supports what the administration did.”208
Another study showed that many at BYU may have agreed with the Utah County residents surveyed. In February a survey released by the University of California, Los Angeles, of colleges and universities across the country showed that 85 percent of BYU’s full-time professors rated their job as satisfactory or very satisfactory—a number well above national satisfaction averages of 64 percent at public institutions and 72 percent at other private schools. The survey “gives empirical support to our longstanding belief that BYU is the greatest place in the world to work, and I say that without the slightest hint of exaggeration,” beamed President Lee. Additionally, BYU faculty members rated their job security at 83 percent, also higher than those at public and private institutions (70 percent and 71 percent, respectively).209
That study supported an earlier poll finding that 65 percent of Utahns believed private universities associated with a religion should be allowed more leeway in personnel procedures and academic freedom issues than public universities. When asked if teachers in public universities should be disciplined for public statements that embarrass their institution, 58 percent said teachers should not be disciplined, 36 percent said they should. With private universities, however, 40 percent said they should not be disciplined, 54 percent said they definitely or probably should be disciplined. Not surprisingly, of active Mormons polled, 75 percent said teachers in private schools who contradict an institution’s views should be disciplined; 80 percent said private religious universities should have more leeway in dealing with personnel and academic freedom matters than public schools. But in Utah County that number jumped to 94 percent, while only 57 percent thought a professor should be punished for voicing critical comments.210
As for Cecilia Konchar Farr and David Knowlton, both found work [p.245]quickly. Farr landed a tenure-track position at the College of St. Catherine in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She was the unanimous choice of the department—something she never had been at BYU. Farr has continued to publish and be an active Mormon feminist. Colleagues have reported that she is liked by her students and respected by her peers. At “St. Kate’s,” she earned tenure and was promoted to associate professor and director of the Core Curriculum. In 1997 she was one of two faculty members to earn the college’s Outstanding Teacher/Advisor Award. Knowlton, following his temporary teaching stint at Colorado College, returned to Salt Lake City where he is an independent scholar and has a business selling merchandise imported from South America.
A year after their firings from BYU, when asked about their experiences, Farr said she was “still trying to work through” what had happened. “It was painful to be betrayed by that community as I was, and it will be a long time before I can completely overcome that.” Knowlton felt similarly: “There has been an awful lot of pain and anguish that I have had to deal with,” he said. For the most part, Knowlton said he enjoyed his time in Provo, “but my bitterness is with the bureaucracy at BYU because they served me and BYU very poorly.” Both said they were moving forward as scholars. “In some ways, the BYU situation is the farthest thing from my mind,” Knowlton reflected. “I’ve decided to put it behind me and not let it hurt my career.”211
2. Former BYU professor of history D. Michael Quinn told a reporter that the protests could be compared in many ways to those that occurred in 1911 after the university disciplined three professors over their support of organic evolution and higher biblical criticism. “But today’s students are far braver,” Quinn said. “They risk being expelled. It’s amazing to me because in the last two decades BYU and the [LDS] church have increasingly emphasized conformity.” Michael Phillips and Cornelia deBruin, “Outcry Over BYU Firings Gets Louder,” Salt Lake Tribune, 17 June 1993.
4. The documents showed that Farr’s average evaluation scores (6.14 on a scale of 1 to 7) were higher than candidates who were advanced, higher than the department average, and higher than the university average. Of her scholarship, she had published more than other successful three-year and five-year candidates, and her scholarly presentations (17) were considerably more than the 2.8 for successful three-year candidates or 10 for successful five-year candidates. Copies of this and all unpublished materials cited in this chapter, unless otherwise noted, are in our possession.
5. The UCLA Ph.D. student also cautioned high school students who planned on attending BYU to reconsider. “Entering BYU at this time, in this atmosphere, is [p.246]a mistake,” she said. Brian Kagel, Tracy Helmer, and Ernest Geigenmiller, “Academic Freedom Debated at Faculty Sponsored Forum,” Daily Universe, 17 June 1993.
6. Phillips and deBruin, “Outcry over BYU Firings”; Bryan Waterman, “Farr from Over,” Private Eye Weekly, 24 June 1993. Sheila Sanchez, “Knowlton Claims Improper Intervention,”‘ Daily Herald, 20 June 1993.
13. Cecilia Konchar Farr, “On Being Mormon and Feminist,” Student Review, 20 Mar. 1991. Farr wrote that her Mormonism and feminism were so interlocked they could not be distinguished from one another: “How could I disconnect two things that seem so completely intertwined that I don’t know where one begins and the other ends?” She explained that “it was my training in Mormonism that made feminism resonate for me.” In a passage later used against her: “My feminism resists Mormon concepts of an exclusively male priesthood, of polygamy, of the silent and absent Mother-God, of the Eve story and its excesses. A bit more Mormonism, some genuinely Christ-like morality, could bring additional light to such critical feminist concerns as compassion, caring, and individual dignity.”
14. Cecilia Konchar Farr, “Abortion is a Feminist Issue,” Student Review, 20 Feb. 1991. In this essay Farr recounted a discussion her class had after reading Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants.” She wrote that the final consensus of the group was that “a woman should be allowed to decide for herself whether or not abortion is right.” (Farr then joked that “this consensus was likely influenced by my openly pro-choice position—no matter how non-authoritative I think I’m making the classroom, I still hold the grade book.”) Farr wrote that the class’s conclusion disturbed her because their “passive construction” assumed someone in authority still granted women the freedom to choose. For this reason Farr saw abortion as a feminist issue: “It’s about whether or not we can end the caretaker relationship that still exists for women under our laws.” “We don’t need decision-makers to tell us what to do,” she wrote. ““What we need are fellow citizens who respect and trust each other. And we need to respect and trust ourselves enough to demand this.”
16. See All in a Good Year: VOICE: BYU Committee to Promote the Status of Women, 1991-92 (Provo, UT: VOICE, 1992), n.p. Following the attempted rape, a headline in the Daily Universe read: “Women: Never Walk Alone”; members of VOICE felt it should have read: “Men: Never Bash Women’s Heads in With Rocks.” See ibid.
17. VOICE, “Raising Our VOICE: BYU’s Committee to Promote the Status of Women,” Student Review, 27 Nov. 1991. VOICE members noted that an attempt to inform the Daily Universe of the curfew proposal in advance of the event resulted in a Universe reporter alerting the administration of VOICE’s plans.
18. Paul Richards, director of BYU public communications, said: “If the curfew proposal increases awareness of the problem [of violence against women], then it has served its purpose.” Perhaps missing the flyer’s irony, he said the administration probably wouldn’t accept the proposal because it was impractical, impossible to [p.247]enforce, and infringes on the rights of students. Cheri Padfield, “VOICE Protests Advice to Women about Attack,” Daily Universe, 21 Nov. 1991.
20. A Daily Universe editorial congratulated VOICE for drawing attention to the long-ignored problem of violence against women at BYU but cautioned the organization that many media outlets were focusing on the protesters, not their message. “Rather than reporting that a women’s organization has proposed a way for women to have ‘one safe night,’ newspapers run a story that gives the impression that women want to ban all men from campus,” the editorial stated. The leaders of VOICE, the Universe warned, needed to be careful not to be “pawns of the media” or the “screaming menhaters the media have painted them as being.” See “VOICE Proceed Carefully,” Daily Universe, 25 Nov. 1991.
25. See Linda Sillitoe, Friendly Fire: The ACLU in Utah (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996), chap. 7. The outcry included a stark, full-page ad in the New York Times: “IN UTAH THEY KNOW HOW TO PUNISH A WOMAN WHO HAS AN ABORTION. SHOOT HER.” For more on the Utah abortion law, see Dan Harrie, “Law Would Ban 90% of Utah Abortions but Some Predict an Increase in Illegal Procedures,” Salt Lake Tribune 19 Apr. 1990.
26. In the introduction to her speech, “Breaking the Silence,” published in the September issue. Farr wrote, “Because I am a [new, untenured] BYU professor, I considered my decision to speak at the rally very carefully—not because I am at all hesitant about my commitment to speak out for women’s rights, but because I had been warned that to speak on this issue was to risk losing my job. And my job has been threatened since then. So has my life. It is interesting to me that both threats came not because I believe in choice, but because I speak for choice. In fact, both threats require only my silence, not my complicity.” She continued that silence, the most common historical requirement of women, is women’s worst enemy, and concludes: “I fear a return to silence.” See Farr, “Breaking the Silence,” Network, Sept. 1992, 12.
28. The Universe also printed a number of letters to the editor on the speech: “For the past four years I’ve been under the impression that BYU is guided by an underlying set of moral standards, and that BYU is different from other universities,” wrote Steve Lenker of Springville, Utah. “Maybe I’ve been wrong in that assumption.” He explained that he had been watching a television news segment on the pro-choice rally at the state capitol, and to his “amazement” Farr was shown “giving a speech in favor of pro-choice.” Lenker asked, “Is it morally and ethically correct for BYU professors (or students) to publically state their views, if their views directly contradict what the Church and its leaders teach?” Letter to the editor, Daily Universe, 29 Jan. 1992.
31. Michele Snow, “4,500+ Turn Out to See Rosa Parks,” Daily Universe, 22 Jan. 1992. An article the next day reported that organizers were surprised by the turnout and “regretful” that a lack of space due to “scheduling problems” kept thousands [p.248]more from attending. Tad R. Walch and David Farnworth, “Crowd for Rosa Parks Surprises Organizers,” Daily Universe, 23 Jan. 1992.
34. Mormon doctrine holds that in a life before this one, God’s spiritual offspring were allowed to choose between a plan proposed by Lucifer that would have guaranteed the salvation of everyone, or a plan championed by Jesus, that gave everyone a choice; the majority of spirits chose the plan offered by Jesus; those who sided with Lucifer were cast into outer darkness.
38. Andrew Gustafson was another student who frequently antagonized VOICE. The nineteen-year-old history and philosophy major spearheaded a short lived campaign to, if not kill the Women’s Center proposal, make sure the university created a comparable facility for men. “Forming a women’s center is inherently sexist,” he told one reporter. “We’re forming a sexist organization to fight sexism.” He added, “We hear that women are oppressed, but what about men who are oppressed and have problems with steroids, AIDS, homosexuality, gangs, pre- and post-missionary problems and rape?” Cherrill Crosby, “If Women Get Own Center at Y., We Want One Too, Men Say,” Salt Lake Tribune, 11 Dec. 1992. See chap. 8 for more on this issue.
39. Chris Hillman, “VOICE Adviser Wins Award from Utah NOW Chapter,” Daily Universe, 15 July 1992. Earlier that summer a minor controversy had arisen when the philosophy department announced a summer course offering, “Philosophical Roots of American Feminism,” by Camille Williams, who had publicly stated her antagonism to the contemporary feminist movement. A series of articles and letters to the editor (Daily Universe, 3, 4, 10 June 1992) contained statements of disappointment from Farr, Roberts, and several VOICE members that a non-feminist had been selected to teach the class. Unknown students, probably VOICE members, posted flyers around campus next to promotional material for the course. “Camille Williams Teaching Feminism,” the flyers said, “Is Like Reed Benson Teaching Marxism.” Benson, a BYU religion professor and son of church president Ezra Taft Benson, was an ardent devotee of the John Birch Society.
42. Peggy Betcher Stack and Michael Phillips, “The Mind May Know No Boundaries, but Intellectual Pursuit Does at BYU,” Salt Lake Tribune, 24 Oct. 1992. A sidebar on Farr noted that some “administrators and faculty believe that feminism and Mormonism are incompatible,” and that they “have tried to get her fired since she arrived.”
48. Hafen to Farr, 23 Feb. 1993; for the controversy that eventually surrounded the memo, see Carolyn J. Mooney, “Professor Charges Brigham Young Fired Her for Her Politics, Not for Her Scholarship,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 30 June 1993. The following year Hafen included sections of his memo to Farr verbatim in a chapter on feminism in a book co-authored by his wife, Marie. See The Loving Heart (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994).
52. Hafen to Gail Turley Houston, 3 May 1993. Hafen reiterated this in a letter to Bryan Waterman, 5 Mar. 1993, in response to Waterman’s letter to Hafen regarding the memo, the Farr and Knowlton cases, and academic freedom issues generally (Waterman to Hafen, 28 Feb. 1993).
54. See Peggy Fletcher Stack, “LDS Pulitzer Prize Winner Puzzled by Rejection as Speaker at BYU,” Salt Lake Tribune, 6 Feb. 1993. On her earlier visit to Utah and BYU, see Ann Poore, “A Mormon Feminist’s Tale: Pulitzer Prize Winner Returns to Utah,” Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Feb. 1992, and Alf Pratte, “Author Turns to Women for History,” Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Mar. 1992. For an interview with Ulrich on this and other issues, see Bryan Waterman, “An Interview with Laurel Thatcher Ulrich: LDS Pulitzer Prize Winner,” Student Review, 2 Mar. 1994.
60. John Hawkins, “Department Chair’s Analysis of David C. Knowlton’s Third Year Portfolio,” 21 Feb. 1993. One student, Ronald Helfrich, a Mennonite graduate student at BYU, later wrote an essay in which he mentioned Knowlton’s “deeply religious” side. “I have heard David speak movingly on several occasions about his deep belief in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Helfrich wrote. “As a non-Mormon I have always been struck by the irony that one who is so Mormon appears to be enduring persecution by the officials of the church he clearly loves so much.” Helfrich, “If It Writes Like a Professor, It Must Be a Professor,” Student Review, July 1993.
64. Associated Press, “Image of Yankee Imperialism Hurting LDS in S. America,” Salt Lake Tribune, 12 Aug. 1991. See also David Knowlton, “Missionaries and Terror: The Assassination of Two Elders in Bolivia,” Sunstone, Aug. 1989, 10-15.
79. With his review around the corner, Knowlton met informally with President Lee. Knowlton wanted to explain his motivations and research. Unsolicited, Lee told him that his reputation with the board of trustees had been “severely damaged” the previous year. Lee encouraged him to send the trustees a memo explaining his research and public statements.
80. Members of the Faculty Council on Rank and Status serve three-year terms. In 1993 they reported to Clayne L. Pope, the associate academic vice president who chaired the council. Members who made recommendations that year were: Steven C. Walker, English; B. Delworth Gardner, economics; Bruce Smith, botany and range sciences; Kent P. Jackson, ancient scripture; W. Wayne Kimball, art; Sally Barlow, clinical psychology; and Calvin H. Bartholomew, chemical engineering.
81. The 24 March 1993 Student Review faculty issue included an essay by Farr as well as a long interview with Tomi-Ann Roberts and Bill Davis, who explained their decision to leave BYU over academic freedom issues.
82. Brian Kagel, Ernest Geigenmiller, and Tracy Helmer, “Farr, 4 Other Faculty May Lose Jobs,” Daily Universe, 10 June 1993. The faculty had already signed teaching contracts for the upcoming year. Melissa Bean, “It’s Business as Usual for Farr-for Now,” Daily Universe, 16 June 1993.
86. “No One Can Serve Two Masters or Native Anthropologist as Oxymoron” (published in 1992 in the International Journal of Moral and Social Studies from Oxford University); “Desengano y desesperacion: las elecciones del 85 en Bolivia y narrativas populares” (published in 1991 in Revista de Investigaciones Folkloricas [Journal of Folklore Studies] from the University of Buenos Aires); “Gringo Jeringo: Anglo Mormon Missionary Culture in Bolivia” (published in Contemporary Mormonism by the University of Illinois Press, 1993.) Four of Knowlton’s Sunstone articles and a Dialogue article were also listed.
90. In Knowlton’s work plan outline for the college Promotion and Tenure Committee, he had written that he was “frustrated” by his busy summer field research trips, the “considerable demand” for his work in the Mormon community, [p.251]the death of his father and ongoing illness of his mother, and the “continual expenditure of energy preparing new classes.” (While at BYU Knowlton developed and taught fifteen different courses). He told the committee that he felt “tired” and “constantly on the edge of disaster.” “While part of this problem is structural, part is mine,” he admitted. “I have tried to do too many things simultaneously, to live too intensely. I am learning about the need to husband my energies and to carefully allot my time …. I have tried to be a whirlwind and now need to learn to plod, like a gentle, but fertile spring breeze bringing nourishing rain.” Knowlton to Promotion and Tenure Committee, 7 Feb. 1992.
92. On the issue of Sunstone’s academic value, university spokesperson Margaret Smoot said evaluating committees, in part, used a quote from Sunstone editor Elbert Peck to defend their contention that the magazine was not an academic publishing venue. In a March 1993 editorial Peck wrote that the difference between Sunstone and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Though is that Dialogue is “a refereed, quarterly journal” organized and run on the “academic model,” while Sunstone is an intellectual magazine—“a blend of the journalistic Newsweek, the opinionated New Republic, and the literary New Yorker.” Peck, “A Cornucopia of Things,” Sunstone, Mar. 1993. On the issue of Dialogue’s academic value, Thomas G. Alexander, the Lemuel H. Redd, Jr., Professor of Western American History at BYU, explained to Hawkins that as a longtime member of Dialogue’s editorial board, he could vouch for its scholarly value. “As a scholar working in the field, if I were to compare the desirability of publishing in Dialogue or the Journal of Mormon History with BYU Studies, the Ensign, The New Era, or Sunstone, I would say that I would rather publish in one of the first two.” Alexander to Hawkins, 16 June 1993.
94. Matheny to Clayne Pope, 16 July 1993. Matheny himself had run afoul of school administrators when several years earlier he addressed a session of the Sunstone Symposium on the lack of archaeological evidences for the Book of Mormon.
103. In response to information from the ad hoc committee’s flyer, BYU spokesperson Smoot said, “A substantial number of the publications on the paper they are sending around the university were published before her time at BYU.” Laura Andersen Callister, “2 More Protests Flay Y. on Academic Freedom,” Deseret News, 17 June 1993.
110. Laura Callister and Brooke Adams, “2 BYU Professors Plan to Appeal Dismissal,” Deseret News, 11 June 1993; Michael Phillips, “Students Protest Firing of 5 BYU Professors,” Salt Lake Tribune, 11 June 1993; “Tenure Denials Raise Scholar Freedom Issue,” New York Times, 11 June 1993. See also Catharine R. Stimpson, “The Farr Case: The Next Chapter in the History of Academic Freedom?” Change, Oct/Sept. 1993, 70-71.
114. The primary architects of the student protests were Carnie Christiansen, Jaime Harker, Rachel Poulsen, Missy Vistaunet, and Bryan Waterman. When the faculty ad-hoc committee met the morning of 10 June, some members said that the students should wait to protest until they could mobilize a large number of supporters. Student organizers disagreed and went ahead.
117. Laura Andersen Callister, “Y. Controversy Unlikely to Affect Accreditation,” Deseret News, 23 June 1993. Leo D. Leonard, a former dean at George Washington University and accreditation team member, wrote a letter to the editor supporting what the Northwest Association official had said. “As an accreditor, I was impressed with the present leadership at Brigham Young, its management style and its excellent programs,” he wrote. “The university is in no way a narrow bastion of denominational beliefs.” “Misunderstandings Surround Denial of Tenure,” Deseret News, 1 July 1993.
120. Anne Mathews, “Was Swastika Work of BYU Protestors? Students, Faculty Deny Defacing Property,” Salt Lake Tribune 16 June 1993; John Pollard, photograph, “Protest Continues … ,” Daily Universe, 16 June 1993.
135. Rex E. Lee, “BYU President Defends University in Denial of Tenure to Two Professors,” Salt Lake Tribune, 20 June 1993. “[N]o one is being punished for [p.253]political views, religious outlook or criticisms of the church,” Lee said. “It isn’t that they’ve done anything bad. To say it was a political purge is just flat out wrong. It was a matter of scholarship. They simply failed to perform adequately.” Gail Turley Houston told the same reporter, “These firings are political. The review process is fair most of the time—unless you are an activist. There’s clearly a double standard.” Phillips, “Students Protest Firing.” (See chap. 8 for more on Houston’s third-year review.)
140. Scott Abbott, David Allred, Wayne Barrett, Peter Bates, Erin Bigler, George Bloch, Grant Boswell, Jasbir Chahal, Gregory Clark, Russ Clement, Peter Crawley, Gloria Cronin, William S. Davis, Gerald Dick, Richard Duerden, Eugene England, William Evenson, Ro Forcade, Richard Hacken, Kristine Hansen, Alan Hawkins, Tim Heaton, Gail Turley Houston, Susan Elizabeth Howe, Steven Humphries, Cardell Jacobson, Bruce Jorgensen, Harold L. Miller, David Olson, Tomi-Ann Roberts, Samuel Rushforth, Jeffrey Turley, and Lawrence Young, “Con: Academic Freedom, Review Process Continues to Concern Many BYU Faculty,” Salt Lake Tribune, 5 July 1993.
150. Peggy Fletcher Stack, “BYU’s Dismissal of ‘Moderate’ Troubles Women,” Salt Lake Tribune, 17 July 1993; Ernest Geigenmiller, “Conference Director Reassigned: Some See Pres. Lee’s Action as Negative Toward Women,” Daily Universe, 20 July 1993.
153. Gardner would later tell one reporter that he left BYU in 1962 because the administration took an official position on a topic he wanted to research. He said he later learned that academic limits exist in California universities as well. Gardner returned to BYU in 1986 to research and publish on governmental agricultural issues. “In the land grant schools of California, the agricultural industry is one of the very important clients, and the boards of regents and trustees tend to be composed … of [p.254]people from that industry,” he said. “If you write anything that’s really critical of a given clientele or interest group that supports the university, you can expect some flak.” Bethany Hanks, “Academic Freedom at Y Defined Differently,” Daily Universe, 24 Mar. 1994.
155. The portions of Hafen’s talk addressing “radical” and “equity” feminism were dropped from one published version of the talk. (See Hafen, “Diligence and Grace,” Brigham Young Magazine, Feb. 1994, 3-4.) Many feminist faculty members joked privately about the irony of a male official dictating to women what types of feminism they were allowed to embrace.
156. Hafen described radical feminism at length as hostile to “all Western institutions” and said his “biggest concern about the radical feminist critique is its potential to undermine religious faith when it rejects hierarchical and patriarchal institutions to the point of rejecting scripture, priesthood authority, and prophets.” For similar reasons he was critical of postmodernism and, in his own discipline, critical legal theory. See Hafen, “Teach Ye Diligently and My Grace Shall Attend You,” Addresses Delivered at 1993 Annual University Conference (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1993). See also Rommyn Skipper, “Lee Sees Abundant Academic Freedom,” Deseret News, 26 Aug. 1993; Joan O’Brien, “BYU Leaders Stay Committed to Church University Ideal,” Salt Lake Tribune, 26 Aug. 1993; Tad Walch, “President Lee Defends Idea of Academic Freedom at BYU,” Daily Universe, 30 Aug. 1993. The talks prompted several student editorials and letters to the editor that were critical of Lee’s notion that BYU has “more” academic freedom that other learning institutions. See Bryan Watennan, “State of Academic Freedom Still Unhealthy,” Daily Universe, 16 Sept. 1993; Mark Goldrup to the editor, Daily Universe, 30 Sept. 1993.
164. “Anyone who believes that Professor Farr and other feminists in the department are subverting the traditional English curriculum ought to spend an afternoon in the English Department office … going through course outlines,” Wilson added. “The traditional canon and white male authors still carry the day. We ought to be grateful for the counterbalance provided by Professor Farr and a few others.” Ibid., 17.
167. Wilson points out that Farr belongs to a generation of scholars “who challenge established ways, who make social judgments as well as aesthetic ones, and who have the temerity to teach” what has not traditionally been part of the curriculum. “Professor Farr did not invent this conflict,” he writes. “If we allow review committees to resolve it by mandate, then we not only do her a great injustice; we [p.255]also put at risk the career of every junior faculty member who attempts to put her or his graduate training into practice.” Wilson, “Response,” 15.
168. Ibid., 2. Cracroft also spearheaded a movement to purify Mormon letters by excluding as “not Mormon” those writers whose work he did not consider spiritually uplifting. See Cracroft, “Attuning the Authentic Mormon Voice: Stemming the Sophic Tide in LDS Literature,” Sunstone, July 1993, 51-52.
170. Wilson writes that Cracroft told him in the fall of 1992 that “we had made a mistake, that we should not have hired Professor Farr.” Wilson says he does not question Cracroft’s “right” to hold such views, but he “certainly question[s] the appropriateness of his serving as the influential College Committee chair when he had decided before the review began that Professor Farr did not belong at BYU.” Though Cracroft was “only one member” of the committee, Wilson acknowledges, “he was a very powerful one.” Ibid., 2.
174. “I realize I have been harsher on Professor Cracroft than many readers of this file will like-much harsher, in fact, than I like,” Wilson writes. “But he was the one who inserted his own syllabus instead of the approved departmental syllabus into [Farr’s] file and who set himself up, or allowed himself to be set up, as the standard against which Professor Farr was to be judged. Her professional life and reputation hang in the balance. Therefore, that standard has to be challenged.” Ibid., 29.
176. Ibid., 29. In reference to the pro-choice rally, Farr wrote in her appeal that she “meant no disobedience by my conduct and to the extent that my actions have been so interpreted, I regret them.” See “Statement of Cecilia Konchar Farr,” 16 Sept. 1993, 10-11.
179. Wilson says that this is not the first time Robertson has been in conflict with a member of the English department. “When I was chair, he got into a flaming fight with Professor Royal Skousen, claiming that Professor Skousen had publicly discredited him and his theoretical approach to language study,” Wilson writes. “The struggle threatened to turn the entire Linguistics Department against the English Department and had to be resolved at the dean’s level. Today the issues and actors have changed, Professor Robertson remaining the constant, but the acrimony persists.” Ibid., 5.
184. Grant Boswell also wrote, “I agreed, and still do, with her argument. I do not want to be a dutiful son, uncle, nephew, father, or brother to anyone in the department. It is simply the wrong metaphor as far as I’m concerned. Far better for us to be colleagues and to behave collegially.” Boswell to Bert Wilson, “Cecilia Konchar Farr’s comments at the 1992 Department Retreat,” 18 Aug. 1993. Another letter of support was written by Susan Elizabeth Howe, who said she grew up in a “family in which I had no voice.” She thinks Farr was correct: “using the family as metaphor is problematic for women.” “A concept that so many perceive (and, I must say, so [p.256]many of our colleagues perceive) as placing women in a subordinate rather than an equal position is potentially damaging to women.” Howe to William A. Wilson, “Re: Cecilia Conchar [sic] Farr’s Objection to the Use of the Family as a Metaphor for the English Department,” 23 Aug. 1993. Also see Hansen, “To Whom It May Concern,” 13 Aug. 1993.
188. England wrote, “I was startled and put off at first, because both Neal and I had been reaching for sweet harmony and at first this seemed like a refusal, but, as I listened and thought, I was convinced by what Professor Farr said, partly because I reflected on a dear friend whom I had just learned had been abused and silenced as a daughter.” Eugene England, “To Whom It May Concern,” 6 Sept. 1993.
190. Rommyn Skipper, “Farr, Y. Council Meet Over Denial of Tenure,” Deseret News, 30 Sept. 1993; Matthew MacLean, “Farr’s Lawyer Calls Appeals Hearing Fair,” Daily Universe, 30 Sept. 1993. To accommodate the various participants’ schedules and to allow the council time to read Knowlton’s voluminous appeal, the hearings had been bumped back a couple of weeks. Associated Press, “BYU Delays Hearings for 2 Denied Tenure,” Deseret News, 16 Sept. 1993; Susanne Wendt, “Knowlton Appeal Today; Farr Set for Thursday,” Daily Universe, 27 Sept. 1993.
195. Rommyn Skipper and Brooke Adams, “Y. Professor Loses Bid For Reinstatement,” Deseret News, 30 Nov. 1993. According to Farr, Lee said that neither he nor the appeal board could make a final decision on any potential settlement; it would have to be approved by several general authorities from the board of trustees, including Dallin H. Oaks and Neal A. Maxwell. “We had to negotiate with the general authorities through Lee,” Farr said. “I was only convinced to withdraw my appeal when I learned this—I still trusted in the honesty and good judgment of my colleagues!” Authors’ interview.
198. Tracy Helmer and Matthew MacLean, “Students Protest Dismissals,” Daily Universe, 2 Dec. 1993. Student editors were embarrassed when they picked up the paper —that morning. In the middle of the front-page article there was a large, blank box except for “—Cecilia Konchar Farr” printed at the bottom. Through a production error, a quote from Farr’s public statement had not been reproduced. Giving the Universe more credit than it deserved, some students thought the empty “call out” quote box was a clever commentary on the university “silencing” of Farr.
207. The memo also said that “While the Board has not entirely dismissed the possibility of candidates who are not members of the Church, they want us to give distinct priority to members of the faith.” Wilkins added: “Most of the time appointments of nonmembers will be temporary.” The percentage of non-Mormon professors at BYU hovers around 2 or 3 percent. Vern Anderson (A.P.), “BYU Steps Up Criteria for Hiring Faculty,” Salt Lake Tribune, 27 Jan. 1994.
208. Communications professor John Hughes told the Deseret News (where he later became editor) that he “never felt muzzled” at BYU. “I think the role of the individual is clear-cut—you work with the respect of the institution you are employed by,” he said. “If you don’t like the rules, then you work for someone else.”
209. Rommyn Skipper, “BYU Full-Time Faculty Happy Serving in Happy Valley,” Deseret News, 7 Feb. 1994; Joan O’Brien, “BYU Faculty High on Job Satisfaction,” Salt Lake Tribune, 4 Feb. 1994; Brent Harker, “UCLA Survey Indicates BYU Professors More Satisfied Than Most,” press release, 3 Feb. 1994.