(June 30, 2021) Bob Fitts, who is the President of the Washington & Lee alumni chapter in Miami, resigned this week. A copy of his letter to the Director of Alumni Relations is provided below.
I hope this note finds you doing well. I apologize in advance for any consternation that the broader publication of this letter may cause, but I believe the course of events merits such measures. No disrespect to you is intended.
Beau, it is with great regret that I resign as president of the Miami alumni chapter effective immediately. This ends nearly forty years of my service to the university. I am resigning as the school is apparently no longer aligned with my values nor with its own historical values: Hundreds of students and parents have provided myself and others with examples of how honor, civility, diversity of thought and respect for one’s fellow community members are now being denigrated on campus, ironically often in the name of diversity and inclusion; violations of honor that comport to the current leftist beliefs are left uninvestigated; faculty are allowed to publicly engage in unprofessional and unethical behavior that most students would be sanctioned or expelled for; and, hardest to imagine, a disturbing number of parents and students have written to express their fears of academic and other forms of retribution by professors who are hostile to these students’ political and other views. How far the University has fallen from grace.
The retention of Lee’s name has been much publicized, yet without honor, civility, and diversity and inclusion that is inclusive of diversity of thought, it really doesn’t matter whose names are on the school’s doors for no such school would be worthy of the names of Washington nor Lee nor would such a school be the institution of higher learning they envisioned. And such a school would certainly not be worthy of the years of service and donations generations of alumni have contributed to perpetuate the school’s mission to educate and to develop honorable and civil citizens. Will W&L continue on a path that will lead to the destruction of its culture to be replaced by one that is atomized and uncivil and therefore not communal and honorable? Or will the school return to its traditional values while being non incautus futuri? A number of the Board’s decisions seems to indicate the former, sadly.
While it’s perhaps a lengthy story of how we have gotten here, it’s pretty clear who is responsible for that we did. There is no question that President Dudley has worked assiduously with the Board’s backing to change the culture of W&L to one reflecting his radical leftist values, although he is deft enough of a bureaucrat to couch his actions in high-minded Ivory Tower language, to put his apparatchiki in positions of authority to do his bidding and to distance himself from as much fallout as possible. The school needs intellectual, moral, and administrative leadership and it gets little of any from Dudley that is consistent with its values and history.
The school is at a crossroads and I believe that if the situation isn’t addressed immediately, the damage to the school’s intellectual and cultural foundations may be irreparable. I believe the first step in any solution is for Will Dudley to be terminated as president of Washington and Lee University immediately for the following primary reasons:
- The appointment of Chawne Kimber as Dean of the College is the latest and perhaps best example either of Dudley’s incompetence or his hostility to the school’s values, or both. Kimber is known nationally as the F*ck Quilt Lady for quilting that and other worse words and posting them and promoting them on social media. I would encourage you and the Board of Trustees to look at this post of hers on Instagram – Kimber and to review her account @CauchyComplete. That President Dudley wouldn’t vet someone for such a position is sheer incompetence and if he did vet her and still offered her the position knowing of such posts, which is certainly what occurred, then there can be no clearer example of how antithetical President Dudley is to the traditional culture of W&L. Any one of any race, any ethnicity, any gender/identity, any religion or of any political persuasion who posts such items so far beneath the dignity of the position in question should be asked to resign or be terminated and whoever was responsible for that hire should bear the consequences as well. Dudley hired her. He knew of her posts and her ideology and he knew what he wanted to accomplish and he must now pay the price and be terminated.
- The Chicago Principles, adopted by the Board of Directors in 2015 to demonstrate the University’s commitment to freedom of speech and freedom of expression on campus, have clearly not been implemented or adhered to. Diversity of thought is dead at Washington and Lee. Sadly, it’s that simple and it’s embarrassing and maddening to those of us who remember the school differently, those whose children attend the school and to those who attend the school or work there who do not agree with the culture that is being imposed upon them or with these policies and politics. Dozens if not hundreds of students and parents have voiced their concern to me and others that conservative students cannot express their opinions, political and otherwise, openly and without fear of retribution. Is this honorable? Is this respectful of others? Is this civil discourse? Does this reflect a “vibrant commitment to free and open inquiry” as the Chicago Principles espouse? Does this reflect an environment where peoples of all walks of life, ethnicities, genders/identities, political and religious beliefs and creeds can interact and learn from those with different views and from professors who, regardless of their personal views, can facilitate, challenge and expand their students’ analytical reasoning skills and knowledge? Clearly not, but aren’t those among the most important reasons one goes to college to begin with, particularly one as exclusive, expensive and reputable as Washington and Lee? Apparently no longer and the man responsible for this drastic but poorly cloaked change is Will Dudley.
- Dudley’s Commission on Institutional History and Community has been more about erasing Lee than contextualizing him, despite his lip service to the alumni to the contrary. The school has literally closed the doors on Lee, disposed of many related artifacts, removed his name from his formerly named chapel and removed his image from its diplomas. The University should find a creative way to embrace Lee, for whom the school is better known than Washington, yet the man in charge will not allow that to happen and the BOT has further empowered him to continue his whitewashing of our history. If Lee stays, and he apparently is for now, then Dudley must go as he has no intention of truly allowing himself to be associated with Lee except perhaps as his undertaker.
- The philosophy professor Dudley is ill suited for his position and not the competent leader a university of such distinction as ours merits and demands. His grasp of issues in front of distinguished alumni has been unimpressive. He has claimed ignorance of any lack of implementation of the Chicago Principles in such conversations, bringing either his competence or candor into question. His administrative hires appear to have been more ideological than competence based, with F-Quilt Kimber and Lena Hill being the two most egregious examples. His stewardship of the University through the COVID crisis was pusillanimous and less adroit than even area prep schools. While the Board’s actions seem to indicate that he is evidently one of their own and they are fully supportive of him and are even expanding his mandate, the school can and should do better than Dudley as its future and its future endowment depend on it and now is the time for his removal.
As I believe President Dudley is leading the destruction of the University and I believe the current Board of Trustees is enabling him, I can no longer be a part of the University’s infrastructure that is furthering this movement nor am I going to raise money on the school’s behalf. Actually, I plan on encouraging as many people as possible to stop donating to the school as money appears to be what the Board of Trustees listens to most. I further feel that the name was retained mainly as the Board knew it would be economic suicide not to retain it and they cynically simultaneously further empowered Dudley and his radical leadership team to continue on their destructive path. Dudley and his team must be stopped and removed and the Board must be repopulated and I will do whatever I can to make that happen. Given that those are my intentions, I can no longer serve as the school’s representative in South Florida.
I am also hereby resigning from my reunion committee and I would be grateful if you would inform the Development Office of my decision. Please also inform them that I will not be sending the amount that I had previously pledged. I have instead donated that amount to The Generals Redoubt and going forward I will donate my time and/or money to TGR or any other organization that arises that is more aligned with my values and that is willing to advocate for Dudley’s removal and for saner governance of the University. I will actively encourage others to do the same. I also would like to be put on the University’s “do not call and do not solicit” list and I would appreciate you facilitating that as well. I also will not be attending future reunions, so please remove me from any such communications.
Beau, I’m very sorry it has come to this. I have expressed my love for the University my entire adult life through nearly 40 years of service on its behalf in a wide variety of capacities in various cities throughout the country. Ending this relationship is a difficult decision and the circumstances are painful, but I can no longer support an institution whose current leadership and their objectives and methods I abhor. I remember Ronald Reagan’s line that he didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left him. Well, I feel that my school has left me, led by a predominantly incompetent, left-wing Board of Trustees with the identity socialist, Will Dudley, and his minions as their agents.
In closing, I have enjoyed working with you, Tom and the Alumni Office staff over the years. And, while I don’t know your views on the subjects above, I do know that you are a good man and I appreciate your service to Washington and Lee. I wish you and yours all the best.
W&L Class of 1986