Mount St. Mary’s University President Simon Newman
Mount St. Mary’s University President Simon Newman (Courtesy of Mount St. Mary's University / Baltimore Sun)

The president of Mount St. Mary's University defiantly rejected on Monday the faculty's demand for his resignation, telling scores of cheering students at a rally in Emmitsburg, "I'm not going to stop."

Faculty members announced Friday that they had voted 87-3 to ask embattled President Simon Newman to resign.


But a survey of about 60 percent of students at the small Catholic university north of Frederick found that a majority support him. The survey was conducted over the weekend by the student government.

Newman, who was named president of the university in December 2014, has drawn criticism from alumni and educators after he fired two faculty members and demoted the provost amid escalating controversy over his new academic policy. On Friday, Newman reinstated the fired professors.

His policy would weed out struggling freshmen by encouraging them to leave the university. The move was intended to bolster Mount St. Mary's student-retention rate and national ranking.

Criticism escalated after the college newspaper quoted him referring to students as bunnies that should be drowned or shot. Newman later apologized and said his words were taken out of context.

During the weekend, the student government association organized its survey. The association polled 951 students, about 60 percent of the 1,600 students at the college. About 76 percent voted in support of Newman, and 24 percent voted against his leadership, according to an email from SGA President Abel Gonsalves.

Although classes were canceled Monday by a blustery snowstorm, students showed up for a rally with signs reading, "I Stand by Newman" and "Team Newman." They listened to brief speeches by Newman and student government leaders, then invited peers to discuss the dispute at a nearby cafeteria.

Three members of the school's board of trustees, which has so far backed Newman, attended the rally. They said afterward that the board planned to meet by teleconference Monday evening.

"We're in the deliberative stage of gathering information," said board member Kevin Cashen, a Baltimore-area banker. "We're not at the point that we've gathered all the facts and talked to all the constituents to be able to decide on what the next step might be."

The student poll will be submitted to the board of trustees. In a statement released Sunday, Newman thanked the students for their "vote of confidence and support in my leadership."

Meanwhile, faculty members will meet later this week to discuss Newman's refusal to step down, David McCarthy, a professor of theology and secretary to the faculty, said in an email.

Baltimore Sun reporter Tim Prudente and the Associated Press contributed to this article.