Marlene Tromp stepped into a whirlwind of misinformation when she took the helm at Boise State University this summer.
First there was the critical letter from lawmakers that took BSU’s diversity programs out of context. Then the ugly Infowars-affiliated cartoon about her. Then the nastiness of online bickering. Yikes. What a welcome.
After all that, we must say — Dr. Tromp, we’re super impressed with how you’ve handled the situation.
In the face of misguided attacks, Tromp took a measured tone. She didn’t jump on the defensive. Instead, she opened her door to the letter’s author, Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, and to other lawmakers who signed it.
“Our meeting was fantastic,” Ehardt said after their meeting in July. “I felt like Dr. Tromp was kind and gracious and willing to engage in continuing conversation.”
The whole thing has led to some frank and open discussions, Tromp said.
“Even though no one expects that kind of letter to come when you’ve been on the job just a number of days, I felt very fortunate that what it did is it opened up a dialogue,” she said.
Those conversations are important, especially when people are believing claims that BSU segregates its graduations, which it doesn’t, or squanders student tuition on certain diversity programs that are actually funded by private grants.
We’re disappointed that lawmakers made a public display of their qualms, and made that kind of first impression, before doing their research. Next time, why not hold the meeting first?
Tromp’s grace and poise have brought levelheadedness to a debate that could have continued to spiral. And it’s allowed for meaningful discussions instead of misinformed grandstanding. Her response is a good example for all of us.
During her State of the University addressed Wednesday, Tromp acknowledged the “vexing political moment” we’re in as a society.
“In this moment where it seems that we cannot talk to each other, I believe it is possible,” she said.
We’re impressed with the tone Dr. Tromp has set so far, and we look forward to seeing her influence in our state and region