Bruce Speck is intelligent.
The man has a Ph.D. He has risen through academic ranks. He was hired as a college president.
The problem is, Bruce Speck isn’t smart.
And there is a difference. When Speck was hired and began work in 2008, he was loved. He was a populist who had lunch in the cafeteria and insisted university employees call him by his first name. He was everything that Julio Leon was not. (Both good and bad) Leon was seen as aloof and imperial. He imposed his will. Bruce was the president of the people.
Not so much, huh?
So where did it go so wrong? It is in his attitude. A former faculty member once said that Speck was probably the kid in high school who sat alone at lunch. They speculated that he was overcompensating with the “Call me Bruce!” schtick and was a bullying victim who had now become a bully. We won’t go that far. But Bruce was ultimately undone because he couldn’t help himself.
When the university faculty held the famous no-confidence vote, Speck survived like a cockroach after a nuclear strike. Then he survived the onslaught of tough, accurate reporting by the student newspaper. Then he got a contract extension when many thought he would be fired.
He felt bulletproof. And that is what killed him. Ultimately, the man couldn’t stop seeking power that made him feel redeemed and stronger than those that battled him.
Ironically, we believe he got kind of screwed here if the reason for his dismissal is for the conditions of the hiring of Dr. Alan Marble. The real bullshit was his backroom dealings on the international mission.
No one will ever convince The Watch that no one but Speck knew about the conditions of Marble’s hiring. Before Marble quit at Crowder and accepted at Southern, this thing went through Speck, surely President’s Council, and you can’t convince us either that a six-figure offer/acceptance didn’t go by the Board of Governors. Maybe the Foundation board didn’t know, but we are guessing that JoAnn Graffam probably did.
When this plays out, Speck is likely gone. And Graffam and Debbie Dutch Kelley — rightly or wrongly — will be in trouble. Pat Lipira’s halo has lost some luster, too. It is clear she knew about the statutory changes Speck was seeking to the international mission.
Speck has dodged a lot of political and PR bullets. We think he got to the point where he thought he could do anything. He would just survive again. It is very Nixonian.
Come Monday, either Speck or a subordinate like Graffam or Kelley will be gone. Or Marble’s hiring will be cancelled. If Speck survives this one, his personality suggests he will be further emboldened.
Then, God help us all.