To the editor:
During the past several weeks Mr. Simons has written a number of Saturday Columns expressing concern over what he sees as a decline in the quality of KU’s top leadership. He has described past times when “KU was a leader in every respect,” and then lamented, “My, how times have changed.” (Journal-World, June 12)
To find justification for Mr. Simons’ concerns about the vision and judgment of recent Kansas University leaders, one need only compare the legacy of Chancellor Hemenway in the area of East Asian studies with what his predecessors accomplished. Chancellor Murphy established The Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) in 1959 and chancellors Wescoe, Dykes and Budig promoted its growth and contributed to building KU’s excellent East Asian studies program.
As for Chancellor Hemenway, he decided to make a name for himself in the field of East Asian studies by selling the use of the KU brand name to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and establishing what CCP leaders call “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up” (The Economist 10/24/09), a so-called Confucius Institute on the KU Edwards Campus. What a contrast! Chancellor Murphy gave KU the CEAS, which promotes objective scholarly research into China and Chinese civilization, while Hemenway gave KU the Confucius Institute, which was founded on the principle of conducting propaganda in support of CCP interests and has a dedicated staff doing exactly that.
Yes, Mr. Simons, times certainly have changed, and, unfortunately, it appears that there are still reasons for your concerns about KU’s direction. Regarding the Confucius Institute, Chancellor Gray-Little continues to follow Hemenway’s myopic path.
Gary J. Bjorge,