Since it has now been publicly announced, I suppose that I can break the self-imposed public silence that I’ve maintained, with only a couple of minor exceptions, regarding my dismissal as editor of the Mormon Studies Review, published by Brigham Young University’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, after founding it and directing it for twenty-three years.
This will be brief. I may or may not have other comments on the topic in the future, depending on how and where things go. I still want to be careful. I have no desire to injure either the Maxwell Institute or the University, and I’m not particularly interested in a glorious martyrdom. (There will, I fear, be grievous damage to the Institute, but it won’t come at my hands.)
It’s scarcely a secret that I haven’t received my dismissal enthusiastically. Thanks to somebody’s leak of two emails, this has already been all over the Web and I’m told it will soon appear, without my participation or involvement, in the mainstream media. I have personal reasons for being displeased, but this isn’t about my hubris: I know that nobody is indispensable. Much more importantly, I have deep concerns about the significance of my dismissal (and the reasons behind it) for the future direction of the Maxwell Institute. Moreover, on behalf of the roughly two hundred and fifty writers who have contributed to the Review over nearly a quarter of a century, I vigorously reject the insinuation that the Review was in a crisis that necessitated emergency mid-volume intervention, and that it now requires a post-Peterson “detoxing” period before it can be permitted to resume publication.
I was notified by the Maxwell Institute director, Dr. M. Gerald Bradford, of his desire for a change in the direction and approach of the Review slightly more than two weeks ago, just prior to my departure for Israel. He and I spoke for several hours, as I attempted to figure out precisely what he had in mind. I had some very substantive concerns, and was still rather uncertain about exactly what he was saying. However, he said nothing at that time about dismissing me as editor.
On Thursday, 14 June, though, I received an email, while I was in Jerusalem, notifying me that he was removing me as editor of the Review. It arrived completely out of the blue; I never saw it coming, though I now suspect, for various specific reasons, that it was the culmination of a long-prepared plan. Today, just slightly more than a week later, my removal has been publicly announced.
The formal statement mentions my associate editors — Louis C. Midgley, George L. Mitton, Gregory L. Smith, and Robert B. White — and pretty clearly implies that they, too, have been dismissed.
They didn’t even receive an email. The newly-posted statement on the Maxwell Institute’s website, I suppose, constitutes their notification and their thanks for, cumulatively, many years of service. (They have been absolutely wonderful.) One of them had written Dr. Bradford several days ago, asking whether he was to be canned along with me, but received no answer. Another called Dr. Bradford by telephone, but his call was not returned. One is traveling in Europe without Internet access, and still knows nothing about any of this (though his earlier calls to Dr. Bradford, regarding a matter that now seems to have been related, also went unanswered). My own emails to Dr. Bradford received no response, and their receipt was never even acknowledged.
For those of you who may be managers in either the public or private sector, a word of counsel: Don’t treat your employees this way.