Professors let loose through blog posts

Despite sometimes controversial content on professors’ blogs, the U doesn’t regulate them.

The University is heading in the wrong direction, Christian traditions are a joke and John McCain confuses autism with Down syndrome. No, these are not the views and opinions of the University of Minnesota, but they are the views and opinions of some University professors. Professors blog about a wide range of topics, some of which are highly controversial. The University does not police professorsâÄô blogs, but they have taken action when professors use blogs inappropriately, University spokesman Dan Wolter said. University laboratory medicine and pathology professor Bill Gleason has a blog titled âÄúThe Periodic Table, âÄù where he regularly posts blogs criticizing University strategies and President Bob Bruininks. Gleason has been involved with the University since the âÄô70s and has been a professor since 1992. While he said he loves the University, he regularly writes about how the administration has mixed up its priorities by pushing top-three research facility goals. âÄúAnd where exactly would âÄòambitious aspirations to be one of the top three public research universities in the worldâÄô fit into that, Bob? This goal is inappropriate for a land grant university under severe financial pressure,âÄù Gleason wrote in his blog. Gleason said itâÄôs important for professors to speak up when they think the University is headed in the wrong direction, and heâÄôs glad the University gives him that opportunity. âÄúWe are lucky to be at an institution where we can speak up, and I wish more of my colleagues would.âÄù Gleason said. âÄúI have not had anyone come around trying to beat on me for expressing my opinion in this way.âÄù But GleasonâÄôs âÄúPeriodic TableâÄù is about as controversial as a childrenâÄôs story compared to the âÄúPharyngula âÄù âÄî a blog belonging to Paul Myers, who is a biology professor at the UniversityâÄôs Morris campus. Last summer, Myers posted an entry titled âÄúItâÄôs a FrackinâÄô Cracker,âÄù which asked readers to send him Communion wafers so he could desecrate them. âÄúThere’s no way I can personally get them âÄî my local churches have stakes prepared for me, I’m sure âÄî but if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare,âÄù Myers wrote in his blog. The blog gained national attention and many requested that Myers be fired or suspended. The Morris administration did not punish him. ItâÄôs not only the professorsâÄô right to speak their minds and stir up controversy, but itâÄôs also their responsibility, Myers said. He said blogging allows him to express opinions that he wouldnâÄôt be able to express in the classroom. âÄúThis is what a university is about: Training students to not passively accept the middle road. ItâÄôs for students to learn how to think and argue,âÄù Myers said. âÄúAcademics have a responsibility to say things that other people might find offensive.âÄù Not all professors use their blogs to arouse or offend. Journalism professor Gary Schwitzer has a popular blog titled âÄúSchwitzer Health News Blog, âÄù where he highlights issues concerning health and journalism. It serves as a clearinghouse for news stories about health and medicine along with SchwitzerâÄôs commentary. SchwitzerâÄôs blog has the sixth most entries on Uthink âÄî the UniversityâÄôs blogging system. He said students who read the blog gain a perspective they donâÄôt get in the classroom. âÄúIf you just listened to me in a lecture, you might think, âÄòHeâÄôs really crazy about these issues; IâÄôm not sure how much meat there is behind that,âÄô âÄù Schwitzer said. âÄúBut the blog has enhanced my connection with students and their connection with me.âÄù