At-large Metro Councilman Jerry Maynard has always been a reliable progressive voice on the council. When he appears on Bob Mueller's WKRN show, he does so as a counterpoint to uber-conservative Steve Gill. So it goes without saying that the above was merely a case of unfortunately timed worship, right?
On last Sunday's show, Maynard was asked to nominate a Tennessean of the Year. His choice? Belmont University President Bob Fisher, whom Maynard praised for the turnaround he's led at the school, which broke from the Southern Baptist Convention in 2007. The councilman lavished Fisher with plaudits for leading the Christian university down a "new path" and "embracing diversity" (see it above at about the 6-minute mark):
I think that Dr. Bob Fisher, the president of Belmont University, is one that should be strongly considered. They’re opening up their law school, their pharmacy school, they have the Rose Park going on. If you look what he’s been able to do with Belmont, leaving the Southern Baptist Convention and going on a new path, embracing diversity at Belmont, the growth. And also what I like about Belmont: Belmont is no longer a sleepy little Baptist school but rather, it’s a leader now in the nation. I think that the turnaround that he has done at Belmont University is good consideration for him.
Sensing Maynard might have something to add to that in the wake of Belmont's scandalous dismissal of its lesbian soccer coach after she revealed to her team that her partner is expecting a baby, Pith called the councilman last night to offer the opportunity.
“I believe Bob Fisher’s record of what he did — if you listen to my quote — of all Belmont has been able to accomplish, that doesn’t change because of this issue that’s going on, that’s pending," Maynard says.
Adding that he hadn't learned of the Howe situation (which broke Thursday night) when he taped the show Friday, Maynard says he's not ready to dismiss Fisher outright. But the councilman's tune has changed a bit. He tells Pith:
“Bob Fisher is the president of a private, Christian university, and they have their mission and they have their code of conduct. They are a private entity. If they are attempting to attract students from all over the country and all over the world, from diverse backgrounds, they have to decide whether certain conduct is unbecoming of quote-unquote Belmont faculty, and they have to decide whether they are willing to pay the price that certain communities will feel unwelcome if their code of conduct will turn certain communities off. That’s a decision that they make. I was basing my opinion based on the fact that they were able to sever ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, to grow their university, to have huge success athletically, huge success in opening a pharmacy school and a law school, huge success in getting the presidential debate, huge success in transforming their board of directors or board of trustees, to include a more diverse body. They have to make that decision how they go forward.”