April 22, 2008

NEWS: Hodge Theory

Trustee objects to cultural exchange
Benjamin Hodge sees no 'overall gain' in understanding Islam

Eyes are once again on the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees.

Approximately an hour and a half into the board’s April 17 meeting, Benjamin Hodge, trustee, pulled an item out of the consent agenda.

The item, a Fulbright Hayes grant awarded to the college, supports a study trip to Morocco to examine Islam and Islamic culture (page 59 of the board packet).

Hodge said he had several concerns about the grant and it’s administrator, Bob Perry, professor of Sociology.
“I have a concern that the grant administrator is not -- I’ve not made up my mind -- but I have concerns that he is not fully committed to what I would consider to be true academic freedom,” Hodge said.

Hodge then voiced another concern.
“I just want to point out what everybody knows but no one likes to say -- and a few people like to pretend you can’t say -- and that is the number one threat to western freedom is militant Islam,” he said.

Hodge went on to say the African seminar was an act of political correctness and served no purpose.
"I don’t see an overall net gain out of doing this,” he said.

Terry Calaway, JCCC president, explained the nature of Fulbright Hayes grants to Hodge and addressed what he saw as the role of the trip.

“The nature of this study trip is because of the nature of the professor’s -- the faculty member’s -- discipline area,” Calaway said. “And in fact, this study tour is one that will allow him to bring back information related to the country of Morocco but also all the various cultural aspects of what that’s about.”

After more than once voicing his disagreement with Hodge, Calaway “strongly urged” trustees to approve the grant, which they did 5-0 with Hodge abstaining.

Watch the April board meeting video here.
Watch Bob Perry address Islam in JCCC's video series "Innovations in Teaching and Learning" here.