Friday night, former St. Cloud State Aviation Professor Pat Mattson sent me the link to this St. Cloud Times article. Included in Dr. Mattson’s email was this paragraph from the article:

“One is the seasonality of it — this time of year typically, they don’t see as much demand,” [Airport Director Bill] Towle said. “But the other piece is that they’re finding they’re having some crew issues — enough crew to operate the aircraft.”

Having talked with Dr. Mattson about aviation workforce issues in the past, it was apparent that Dr. Mattson used bold print to highlight the fact that there are serious workforce issues within the aviation industry and that St. Cloud State’s decision to close the Aviation program is contributing to those issues.

What’s interesting is that that paragraph had gotten altered by the time I got there to read the entire article. Here’s how that quote currently reads:

“One is the seasonality of it — this time of year, typically they don’t see as much demand,” Towle said.

While I’ve been critical of the Times from time to time, I don’t believe that the Times’ reporter, Lisa Schwarz, got Bill Towle’s quote that badly wrong. It’s possible to miss a word or two in a sentence that short. It isn’t likely that they’d get a quote wrong by adding an additional sentence that wasn’t spoken. In fact, I’d bet the proverbial ranch that they didn’t get Bill Towle’s quote that badly wrong.

What happened to the article? Why was that line removed? Did someone from the Potter administration contact the Times to get that sentence removed? Did President Potter call John Bodette directly to get that quote modified? That’s certainly possible considering the fact that St. Cloud State hasn’t taken criticism of their closing the Aviation program well.

When students were met with President Potter, President Potter berated two of the students:

Furthermore, later, as the meeting progressed, President Potter yelled at myself, as well as another student. He raised his voice at me and mentioned, “do not take that tone with me…” while he leaned over the table with both hands on the table. At this point, I literally shut down as the other 4 individuals resumed the meeting. He also yelled at another student with the same tone and words.

A university president that’s willing to intimidate students is certainly capable of getting upset over a quote in an article.

Let’s remember that MnSCU Chancellor Rosenstone gave President Potter the option of re-opening the Aviation program. President Potter responded by saying that it’d be a sign of weakness if he changed his mind. Silence Dogood wrote about it here:

At Meet and Confer on March 28, 2013 between the Administration and Faculty Association, President Potter said that “to admit a mistake would make his leadership team look weak.” [ed. added highlighting] He was referring to the closure of SCSU’s accredited Aviation Program and not Coborn’s Plaza.

When people have questioned President Potter about the wisdom of that decision, he’s lashed out at those questioning him. That’s what he did with the students. It wasn’t a mild disagreement. He attempted to silence them with intimidation.

I’m not sure intimidation was required with the Times. Considering the Times’ refusal to cover controversial things on the University campus, from the transcript scandal to Coborn’s Plaza to the Herb Brooks underfunding to the enrollment decline, it’s possible that a friendly conversation between President Potter and John Bodette got the quote changed.

That quote directly questions President Potter’s decision to close the Aviation program. The anecdotes from campus are legion that President Potter doesn’t respond well to people questioning him.

Demanding that an embarrassing sentence from a quote be deleted isn’t just possible. It’s likely. That’s a disgrace to both President Potter and the St. Cloud Times.

UPDATE: This afternoon, the article quoting Bill Towle from Friday night had disappeared from the Times website. There were lots of articles from Friday, just not the Allegiant article. The Times didn’t delete the article. They just took it off of their roster of articles. It can still be found by using the search window in the upper right hand corner of the page and by searching for Allegiant.

What’s interesting is that there’s this brief article from Saturday praising St. Cloud State. Here’s the article:

For the second straight year, the St. Cloud State University Residence Hall Association has received the Commitment to Philanthropy Award from the Midwest Association of College and University Residence Halls.

The award recognizes combined campus and community philanthropy efforts.

It’s amazing. An article with the potential to embarrass President Potter disappears from plain sight and a PR article praising St. Cloud State appears the next day. What a coincidence.

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