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ted.mercer.blogspot.com — Post #2, June 1953

Mercer included an “Additional Statement” with his first to the BJU Board of Trustees.

He mentions several people most of whom resigned just before or after his firing. For the record, I’ll list them here with a summary of Mercer’s (alleged, for you legal types) description and any additional information I’ve found:

  • Bronkema had been kicked out of Princeton for being too fundamentalist. He taught Bible at BJU and had annoyed BJSr. to the point that he asked Mercer to find something bad on him to use against him.
  • Karl Keefer, Dean of Fine Arts, resigned and Dwight Gustafson replaced him. The Sword of the Lord in 7 October 1955 (4) lists him as dean at Washington Bible Institute.
  • Robert Schaper was a popular Bible teacher, former Dean of Men, former Director of Religious Activities (extension). He was the Dean of the School of Religion when he resigned, Gilbert Stenholm took his place. Schaper has written several books since.
  • Grace Haight, after whom the current BJU Nursing building is named, had angered the Joneses for speaking up about their treatment of Mary Gaston’s elderly aunt. BJSr. “had set out to find something against Dr. Haight so that he could punish her.” Jones wanted her to stop teaching. No one had the heart to do it — not even BJSr.! — because she was so well-loved. She finally agreed to edit the periodical Fellowship News instead.
  • Ernest Qvarnstrom was the BJU’s Maintenance Engineer and was fired for “inefficiency” even though the Joneses had a publicly-and-frequently-stated policy that “no one who is loyal is dismissed for inefficiency” (6). Mercer claims that Qvarnstrom’s firing was the beginning of the then-recent faculty “unhappiness.”
  • Dr. [Leila R. ??] Custard earned $200/month. Mr. Hitchcock earned $150/month. Mercer and his wife got $160/month.
  • R. K. “Lefty” Johnson, long-time business manager and current BJU CFO‘s grandfather, enjoyed the unfortunate position of being both a Jones sycophant and a Jones irritant. BJSr. described him as not “mind[ing] telling a lie.” He was known to “pad” the numbers for salaries and educational expenditures (14).
  • Attending Virginia Hendrickson‘s funeral in Spartanburg in 1951 was a sore-spot for the Joneses.
  • John R. Robinson, M.D. was an OB in Greenville who refused to care for his maternity patients at Barge because of its inadequate facilities.
  • Morton Brown taught History and resigned because he objected to the Jones’s treatment of Dr. Robinson. He submitted his resignation before the April 1 deadline, but the Joneses fired him immediately. Due to this unusual timing, Brown wrote his students explaining his resignation. BJSr. was angered at this and corrected Brown’s statements in a closed-door meeting with his students
  • Fred Holmes “was exhumed” in that meeting. He had objected to the faculty salaries and was fired. Fred Holmes and his wife (who taught piano) received $160/month even though BJSr. claimed it was $300/month to the students in the Brown meeting.
  • Leo Patterson took BJSr. at his word when he claimed that anyone who wanted “[Southern] Association” salary could get it if he just asked. Patterson asked. He, too, was fired in the middle of the Spring semester.
  • Van Laar sympathized with Patterson and didn’t stand in one of the frequent “loyalty meetings” and so was fired.
  • Hal Carruth, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, resigned.
  • Ciliberto taught in the School of Commerce.
  • Stout, head of the science dept, called its facilities “primitive” and was nearly fired. The Science building did get an update following, however.
  • Students attending John Dunlap’s church in Norfolk had to affirm a loyalty statement in April 1953.
  • Laird Lewis, Dean of School of Education, resigned some time before this, I gather, and had died by the time of Mercer’s statement.

Other statistics:

  • Registrations were 2724 in the 1952 Fall semester despite what is reported in The Sword.
  • The salary system is to pay “according to his ‘need'” with a strategy to keep the prospective employee “on the defensive” (7).
  • 70 full-time faculty members had left at the end of the 1951-1952 school year.
  • Mercer was one of the top salaries at $3600/year. College professors in 1953 got $6384, and the average wage nationally was $4K/year. Dr. Jones kept padding the salaries by about 40% (16).
  • Dr. Jones (Sr)’s arguments against accreditation are “something of a joke” outside BJU’s constituency (10).
  • On faculty loads, “Dr. Jones Sr. has always insisted should be heavy, his philosophy being ‘work them so hard when they go home at night they’ll be too tired to complain about anything'” (12).

Read Mercer’s description of faculty salaries and treatment, the Joneses’ attitude toward accreditation, their capricious and egocentric rule, their tendency for hyperbole, and their habit of playing good-cop-bad-cop with the younger Jones vs. the elder Jones. Just change the dates and the people or the suffix on the end of the administrator’s name. The lack of difference is startling.

For the record (and for the search engines), here are the quotations of note:

It is only fair to say also that I have been urged by some of the finest people I know to let the entire matter drop. Having weight the situation and considered all the advice pro and con, I have decided to release this report (2).

It was our system of living and our salary system which made it difficult to get faculty (3).

I told him frankly that I made it a practice never to ask both of them about the same matter (4).

It was evident Dr. Jones liked anyone who didn’t want much money; but anyone who asked more than usual had many things wrong with him–his appearance, his religious background, his having moved about before, etc. (7).

Many of them left, however, to escape the unhappy and unsatisfactory conditions prevailing in the University and some left because their friends were either being fired or were resigning. . . . For many days in this period, Dr. Jones conducted a series of conferences large and small of faculty and staff demanding to know who had been heard to complain about housing, salary, the firings, etc. These inquisitorial meetings seemed for the first time to open the eyes of many of the faculty (9).

Needless to say, all these events produced a terrible mental and emotional climate on the campus. Dr. Jones saw to it that all was glossed over by chapel announcement and sermon, those who were fired being denominated ‘crooks’ and instruments of the devil and those who were leaving by resignation being slurred in one way or another (9).

I came to see that the stated reasons were a thin tissue of fabrication and that the real reason was two-fold: first, to be accredited by any regional or national govt, the business setup of the University as it relates to faculty and staff would have to be changed; and second, Dr. Jones could not run the school in the same ironhanded manner if the University were in an association, to wit, he could not fire summarily an employee, and any dismissed employee would be entitled to a hearing before an impartial group. Now Dr. Jones made clear to me these real reasons gradually and he emphasized to me that these reasons could not be divulged publicly but that we must keep it on the basis of an administrative polity that to join an association would destroy us spiritually. In effect and in practically these words, Dr. Jones said, ‘When they want you to do something that you don’t want to do, tell them you can’t do it because of your religious convictions; and then if they put pressure on you to do it, cry “religious persecution” and they’ll leave you alone. People in this country are scared of religious persecution.’ Dr. Jones did not confine his indoctrination to me alone, for Mr. Laird Lewis, late Dean of Education before he resigned, came to me in open-mouthed astonishment and told me, asking me if I knew it. This practice of having one reason for doing something, yet publicly announcing another, is a characteristic of Dr. Jones’s policy of dealing with people as well as situations (10-11).

All the [accreditation] committees (including the one from the University of South Carolina) commended Dr. Jones on the spiritual and religious contribution of the school, the attractiveness of its physical plant, its cultural emphasis, etc., but at the same time the committees did not find corresponding strength in the matter of faculty stability, training and degrees of the faculty, faculty loads, certain aspects of the instructional program including parts of the library collection, and the science setup as regards space, equipment, etc. They all seemed to feel the ‘Show Window’ was most inviting but that educationally, by prevailing standard of measure, there were notable weaknesses and gaps (12).

Although on the administrative level and in chapel with the students, Dr. Jones emphasizes vigilance in preserving orthodoxy and evangelism, in preserving discipline, and in getting students[,] and urges that nothing be taken for granted in these matters; yet he repeatedly says to the faculty that it is taken for granted that they are doing a good job of teaching and that we have high academic standards. No real effort is made to secure and keep faculty members. If BJU took toward students the same attitude it takes toward faculty, its enrollment would be greatly curtailed in a very short time (19).

The construction of the handsome museum and art building and the talk of a multi-million dollar hospital sit heavily on the minds of those who know the inadequacy of faculty housing, no only in number of units but also in part in quality of housing (20).

It is to be regretted that a school with such a far-flung Christian testimony and with such an impact on its students in the art of Christian living is sadly lacking in Christ-like management. All who disagree in any matter, institutional or personal, are ‘crooks’ or part of a Satanic attack against the school. Those who get in the limelight meet with disfavor whether they be in the evangelistic world — Billy Graham, for example, about whom to the University administrators it was said that he was shallow, superficial, and not having real revival, won’t last — or in Bob Jones University’s world — Dr. Schaper, for example, who was the object of disapproval because the students requested him as a speaker for the Washington, D.C., and Jackson, Mississippi, banquets in 1951, because students asked him to perform their wedding ceremonies, and students made frequent request for him to preach on the campus. It is also to be regretted that in a school where the first rule for students is ‘Griping not tolerated’ that criticism of others (intimate friends not excluded) is freely meted out, that where the students are told ‘It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right’ those in authority who any means necessary to accomplish their end, including character assassination of those whom they oppose (21).

Since my statements were prepared, there have been other developments which presage the future relative to these matters. An organization which was considering employing me was served an ultimatum that it would be boycotted and blacklisted openly if it did so. Two secretaries at the University have written me letters, one denying the compliment paid the Records Office which Miss Luetgens told me, and the other, raising a question as to whether I did not carry off certain letters and reports belonging to the University. I recall when Dr. Jones was seeking something against Dr. Bronkema some years ago and I responded I knew nothing against him, Dr. Jones responded, ‘Well, go find something on him!” (24).

3 thoughts on “ted.mercer.blogspot.com — Post #2, June 1953

  1. Wow. That last quote is just scary.

    But you can probably guess I am going to have to read the Accreditation section. It is really sad that they tried to pass off the accreditation issue for so long on Religious freedom when it was nothing of the sort. That is just a shame pure and simple.

  2. Reading this is just so distressing. You and I argued that BJU was losing its moorings. Granted, we were talking about “creeping Keswickianism,” but reading of all this duplicity and underhandedness 40+ years later reveals that what we believed to be institutional rot was really only business as usual.

    And that Dan Turner would intentionally perpetuate such a hellish rumor about Mercer makes me sick to my stomach.

  3. Wow. Just read it all. I’m curious to find out if the board ever met about this as he suggested at the end of the pamphlet.

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