Prof. Tracey Salisbury – The Standing "O"

Prof. Tracey Salisbury, a tenure track faculty member in the history department who wlll earn her doctorate later this year, earned a standing ovation yesterday for her Chapel talk on "Wabash Always Thinks – Or Not."

A podcast is available to download from iTunesU here.

Her message centered on acceptance and not second-guessing people. From an acceptance standpoint, Salisbury sees Wabash as a college that doesn’t say "No" but always tries to find a positive, moving forward answer. 

She also believes that new people and new ideas aren’t to be resisted, as she senses the Wabash community sometimes does, but embraced.  New ideas and new people are not threats to existence but the energy sources for growth and development.  These are the things that make a college and its family strong.

Her thoughts obviously resonated with many in attendance as they certainly responded to her talk.

  1. Royce Gregerson

    I think your spin on the talk is a little unfair, Tom, seeing how most of it focused on attacking student organizations and even an individual student. It was far and away the most unprofessional thing I have ever seen a Wabash professor do.

  2. Terry J. Archabeault, '05

    I was both informed, intrigued, but ultimately concerned by this talk. I found it offensive, in that it was virtually an attack upon a student, a faculty member, and upon Wabash itself, wrapped up in pretty paper. The first thing scholars of Patristics note is that the Church Father’s deployed rhetorical tricks to savage their “heretical” opponents. When did Wabash men become incapable discerning these rhetorical ploys? How could they not realize that they were being attacked? How can they give an ovation to their own savaging? I fear we place too much emphasis upon conversation, and not enough upon understanding.

  3. Reginald N. Steele, Jr.

    I will have to disagree, She only spoke the truth about Wabash College and the college allow studets, faculty members, and Wabash itself to exploit others as freely as they will like. I understood her “rhetorical conversation” very clearly, and I wasn’t offended about any word that she said.
    Most people at this college are very conservative, however they are so conservative that they become defensive to every new word spoken. That is what make Wabash College ideaology “Salvaging,” to know that people do not think outside of the box.
    Being an Southern, Black, Liberal, Outspoken, Free, Young Man, I understood every word she said. Before I decided to attend Wabash College, I understood the demographics and “salavaging” ideaology of the college, however I was promised a change.
    It starts now to commit upon change and to bring the truth to the table. We must “adapt” to the modern world and accept all people for who and what they are. Until this day arise, Wabash College will continue to “Salvage.”

  4. Brandon McKinney

    I really enjoyed the Chapel talk by Professor Salisbury. She addressed many of the issues that Wabash struggles with and issued a challenge as us as a community to really being thinking critically. The reaction from the students in giving her a standing ovation reflects that many of the issues she addressed were of concern to the student body as well.

  5. Wesley Chamblee

    I find it disturbing that Professor Salisbury is being labeled unprofessional. You cannot get mad at someone who provides their objective opinion about Wabash. How come no one makes a fuss about certain students voicing their uninformed and ignorant opinions? That sounds a little more unprofessional to me. I also find it comical that some students think they can write badly about professors and not have to worry about the professor responding. If you can’t stand the heat you’re better off staying far away from the kitchen. Oh, and Professor Salisbury did not once reference that student by name. I might be a little crazy, but that sounds professional to me. With that being said, Wabash needs to chill out when it comes to voicing certain uninformed opinions about people and organizations. If you actually take the time to get to know someone you might understand that person’s perspective a lot better, that way you are less likely to make inaccurate assumptions. If you don’t start a mess there won’t be a mess.

  6. Drew Howk '08

    To have a professor such as Ms. Salisbury on Wabash’s Campus who is such a staunch advocate for being open and honest in discussions without forgetting respect and humor is yet another reason I am proud to be a Wabash Alumnus.
    I found her message for the need to rip down the walls of suspicion and fear that surround the relationships of Wabash men and new members of campus smacks of a bitter truth. It’s time that the campus community had this discussion, and we should be honored to have such an intelligent and refreshing advocate for our college in Ms. Salisbury.
    Challenging the way things are is not an attack, it’s a dialogue.

  7. Stephen Morillo

    Gee, Royce, is it a mite disingenuous of you not to say “an attack on me” rather than “an individual student”? And both you and Terry characterize this as “an attack”, when the context and Dr Salisbury herself made it quite clear that this was not an attack, but a response to an attack — and a quite reasoned and responsible one, at that. She didn’t name you, and she dealt with the issues you raised and the manner in which you raised them. She did not attack you. If you’ve never seen anything more unprofessional by a Wabash professor, then you didn’t see other Chapel talks where certain professors attacked, by name and without prior provocation, the persons and professional integrity of some of their junior, untenured colleagues. Far, far worse than a talk Thursday that was not at all unprofessional.
    The larger point to both of you is this: how many times does someone such as Professor Salisbury have to say “I love Wabash, and I love teaching at Wabash” before that becomes the central message, and not, for you, some disingenuous “pretty paper” wrapping? Is Wabash immune from any criticism? Are you advocating a “my country, love it or leave it” style attitude? One would think that the disasters of the past US administration that hid behind such an attitude would have cured any thinking person of reliance on it.
    Tom, fine job — I thought you captured the tone of the talk perfectly.

  8. Royce Gregerson

    This is not the place for me to present an argument for why Professor Morillo is dead wrong in his argumentation. I’ll just point out that he is wrong to assume that the “individual student” to whom I am referring is me.
    There is one central issue here at stake, though, and that is how students and professors interact with each other. I’m not concerned with how faculty members respond to each other. But it can never, under any circumstance, be appropriate for a Wabash faculty member to argue with a student from the Chapel podium. This is a severe abuse of the student / professor power differential and highly unbecoming of someone who attempts to be seen as a professional. What is almost as bad is that a Wabash professor would lash out at a student over a blog entry posted on the Wabash website. If I were a prospective student looking at this post I certainly wouldn’t want to come to a school where professors accuse students of not being a “thinking person.”

  9. Hmm, all we need now is Prof. Webb, and we’ll have both ends of the spectrum at Wabash.
    In the end, I do appreciate Prof. Salisbury’s call to reform, if not her methodology. I sense that Wabash is a conservative place, not necessarily because the students who attend are conservative, but due to apathy. A majority of students, at least while I was there, didn’t particularly care about the inter-Nicene squawking of the faculty. They were too busy watching Room Raiders, setting up internships to land that sales job after college, or reading (insert life-changing author here). This seems to lend itself to a type of homeostasis, which might just be Wabash’s problem at the moment.
    Does it change anything, in the end? Has Joy Castro’s excellent Chapel Talk from years ago caused change? In the end, whether I or Prof. Morillo liked or disliked this talk doesn’t matter. It is whether changing the homeostatic apathy of Wabash is possible, and whether words are able to do that.

  10. Reginald Steele

    This is exactly what Dr. Salisbury addressed. Students critiquing professors, and feel that is okay to belittle the hands that guides you to your future. They are educators; they are not there to lead you down the wrong path, but to send you along a more literate journey. Telling a professor that theyt are “Dead Wrong” is foolish. It is very unprofessional to do as someone on this comment list done, grow up and learn from all of this. I will think prospective students will want to come be apart of a progression that Wabash College has been searching for.

  11. Tracey Salisbury

    I find it extremely interesting that Mr. Gregerson feels compelled to comment about my professionalism, but continues to fail to honestly discuss any of the numerous issues I raised in my chapel talk. I also find it interesting that Mr. Gregerson continues to skip over the personal responsibility of students to engage their professors in an informed and respectful fashion.
    Additionally, Mr. Gregerson feels compelled to attack me without knowing anything about me at all. I don’t know him, I don’t even recall meeting him. And I have wonder if Mr. Gregerson would appreciate if people just judged him as a complete individual by his Bachelor opinion pieces.
    And despite my open invitation to have any student come by office and discuss any questions or issues they may have. Mr. Gregerson has failed to take up that offer and engage in an adult discussion. He has preferred to throw rocks elsewhere and hid his hands instead. I wish I could respect that, but I can’t. Complaining for complaining sakes means nothing if you are not willing to engage in a useful dialogue.
    And I will not apologize for raising issues for discussion on campus. If Mr. Gregerson doesn’t like what I said and doesn’t want to engage in discussion, there is nothing more I can do. And if I understand the underlying message of Mr. Gregerson’s comments correctly, freedom of speech at Wabash is ONLY for students, not for the faculty, staff, or visitors. Students are free to say anything about anyone, but everyone else is expected to be SILENT.
    And if I am truly understanding Mr. Gregerson, in his view, students at Wabash should NEVER be held accountable for public statements, particularly public statements that are made without any factual basis, logic, learned knowledge or compassion. This seems to be a very strange understanding of freedom of speech and intellectual discourse to me.
    If Mr. Gregerson was truly concerned about how students and faculty interact with each other, then he would have been in my office yesterday talking to me, not throwing barbs about my professionalism on the campus website.
    And if Mr. Gregerson was truly concerned about how EVERYONE on campus engages each other on campus, he would have sent out an e-mail condemning the folks that produced the anonymous flyers labeling the Editor-in-Chief of The Bachelor a tyrant.
    A cowardly and ungentlemanly act in my book, but Mr. Gregerson has been curiously silent on that attack. Funny that.

  12. Stephen H. Webb

    Professional ethics implies that one has a profession. Professors are under ethical obligations that students are not. Being a student should involve much more freedom for all sorts of things than being a professor.

  13. Tracey Salisbury

    Dr. Webb –
    Your comment is a perfect textbook example of the old phrase “the pot calling the kettle black.”

  14. Stevan Stankovich

    I found this discussion very interesting to say the least. I do believe Professor Salisbury and for that fact any professor has the right to offer an argument back if attacked by a student. The way Professor Salisbury did this was highly professional. The real purpose however for this comment is has anyone thought of talking to each other face to face instead of using blogs, the commentary, bachelor, etc. to get their points across? Just asking seems like that might work better.
    Oh and by the way Professor Salisbury, heck of a job on the chapel talk just got a chance to listen to it now and I thoroughly enjoyed a lot of the ideas in your speech. I find it particularly interesting how the new professor ideal can also hold true for new students.