kairos wrote:Searching BYU news two past entries on Gee :2004 named Associate Research professor in the Ancient Text restoral dept; 2009 named Professor there- no othet entries so he has been a full professor 10 Years.
Just addin to the timeline
Good for him, if he is a full professor. I'm still kind of curious how that promotion happened outside of a department. BYU I guess can do things there own way.
At least up to a point. For example, I hope this is not the case:
Analytics wrote:I don't have any experience in such matters, but I thought this comment by DCP might be relevant:
"There is really only one donor whose opinion of Professor Gee's research and writing makes any difference -- and I can assure you that you're not describing that donor's view."
Could the "only one donor" that "makes any difference" be any other than the William "Bill" Gay trust, or the philanthropist who is otherwise funding the chair under that name? My impression is that the only reason why Gee was not ousted in 2012 was because he was funded by this independent source of money.
The donor has that much power? I doubt it. Usually, an endowment for a chair can stipulate what the purpose of the chair is and often where it should be housed in the university (making it complicated to move them around to other departments); but they can't usually stipulate who holds it except through nudging and winking. Peterson's portrayal of the situation, however, is that BYU is merely a stage on which Gee performs for his patron. That is not how an endowed chair is supposed to work. An endowment means that the interest
of an initial sum is designated for a specified use to be administered by the university, in this case a research position. It does not mean that the donor is paying the salary of the person holding that position on an ongoing basis. The opinions and even the original intent of the donor are irrelevant, although respecting those intentions increases the likelihood of future donations. But even BYU does not think donors are entitled to that much control, which is why BYU went to court with the Siebachs some years ago
after they were upset that BYU froze funds that had been earmarked (in their thinking) for the research initiatives of their son, a BYU philosophy professor. The opinion of the appellate judge
who returned the case to the district court references a common-law rule that donors do not have standing to enforce their intentions:
Under the general common-law rule, only the attorney general, and not the donor, has standing to enforce the terms of a completed charitable gift...Donors have traditionally been “prevented from enforcing their gifts in court, because non-trustee donors retain no interest in the gift, except the sentimental one that every person who [has] contributed to the charity would be presumed to have.”...The Siebachs do not dispute that the common law generally precludes a donor from suing to enforce the terms of a charitable gift. Instead, they argue—correctly—that no Utah case has expressly applied the common-law rule of donor standing. But it does not ineluctably follow that the district court therefore erred in applying the common-law rule. Indeed, Utah courts have consistently looked to the common law to resolve questions of standing....We see no error in the district court's reliance on the common law to evaluate the Siebachs' standing to press claims relating to their donative intent...The district court therefore did not err in dismissing the Siebachs' claims that sought to enforce their donative intent.
So, will William Gay sue? It appears he wouldn't even have standing to do so. His card is that he won't donate any more money to BYU, I suppose. But, if this is a real endowed position and not an illegal means by which un-taxed money is funneled to John Gee as a charitable donation, it is unlikely that he is making regular payments from which John Gee draws a salary.
Analytics wrote:DCP also said of the decision to move the chair, "There was definitely involvement at the highest levels of the BYU administration and at Church headquarters."
My impression is that the philanthropist still has some control of the money that is funding this chair. I would speculate that that donor didn't like the MI's new direction and threatened to pull the funding if Dr. Gee wasn't given a more congenial home. If I'm right, that would surely get the attention of "the highest levels of the BYU administration and at Church headquarters," who would do whatever was required to keep the money flowing.
What does "church headquarters" (what a silly phrase!) have to do with anything? Certain of the hierarchy are on the board of trustees, but that is the only capacity in which they could exercise authority over BYU. I mean, BYU still has to follow the law, particularly as it participates in the federal aid program, with religious exemptions applicable only in certain cases. I don't know if "we don't want to piss off donor" is one of those exemptions. Presumably, he means only that some of the board members who also serve in other capacities that put them in "church headquarters" were involved. I hope that's all he means, otherwise the situation as paints it is cloaked in a funky smell.
The weird thing about these apologists' invocation of Church leaders is that it goes both ways: if we can read Gee's move (whatever it is) as part of the grand chess game, then surely the fact that Daniel Peterson runs a ghost-edited blog now but doesn't edit a journal is evidence that ancient asses plopped in plush chairs at "church headquarters" have also sanctioned his exile from the Maxwell Institute.
In any case, I still think this is only being made out by the old practitioners of Mormon apologistics as an event in the struggle against the infidels invaders. It is probably more mundane than all of that. Whatever the reasons are for whatever is going on, BYU probably does want to respect the donor's wishes, as does John Gee, and it appears the donor wanted the money to be used in pseudo-scholarship. Gee doesn't really do much of that these days, but his Egyptological work doesn't really fit well in the Maxwell Institute either. It isn't an institute for the study of the ancient world. The Syriac and Christian Arabic material at least fits within the umbrella of inter-religious dialogue, but no one is going to be having a dialogue with the priests of Min anytime soon. The ecosystem that existed 25 years ago has been transformed around John Gee, and if it can be done properly and orderly, it's not unfair for him to be put in a place where at least some of his work and expertise can make a contribution. Certainly, if the situation were reversed, most readers wouldn't see a big problem: if Robert Ritner, in this fantastical hypothetical, had come to BYU for an endowed research position in Egyptian philology only to have that place transformed around him to an apologetics-factory, he would rationally and rightly look for ways to move somewhere less uncongenial to his original goals. I know a lot of people here want an end to the story in which John Gee is humiliated and unemployed, but the fact is that the Maxwell Institute was one thing when Gee came and is now something else, and that Gee has published as much or more non-Mormon scholarship than some of the people in Near Eastern languages—he has certainly done more than Daniel Peterson, who has never published anything
for a non-Mormon scholarly audience (the Muhammad biography doesn't fit the bill, as he should know and admit), despite apparently being a full professor. I certainly have no respect for his pseudo-scholarship, but, while he is not going to be invited anywhere as a keynote speaker anytime soon, he also done more than enough real scholarship to earn a little sympathy from even an infidel like myself.
"As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them."
—B. Redd McConkie