University Dean Resigns Following School’s Chick-fil-A Ban

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
March 6, 2019US News
University Dean Resigns Following School’s Chick-fil-A Ban
Drive through customers wait in line on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day in Fort Worth, Texas, on Aug. 1, 2012. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The dean of a university announced her resignation after the school banned Chick-fil-A.

Students at Rider University in New Jersey voted to bring a Chick-fil-A on campus but university officials overruled the vote.

Officials claimed that the fast-food chain couldn’t be allowed on campus because “their corporate values have not sufficiently progressed enough to align with those of Rider.”

The decision received backlash and compelled Cynthia Newman, dean of the College of Business at Rider, to resign.

NTD Photo
Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J., in an undated file photo. (Google Maps)

“I felt like I had been punched in the stomach when I read that statement,” Newman told the conservative website Campus Reform.

“I’m a very committed Christian and Chick-fil-A’s values—their corporate purpose statement is to glorify God and to be faithful stewards of all that’s entrusted to them and to have a positive influence on everyone who comes into contact with them—and I would say that that mirrors my personal beliefs perfectly. And so I really felt it very personally,” she said.

She noted in a letter to administrators that Chick-fil-A’s corporate purpose statement is “To glorify God by being a faithful steward that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who came into contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Newman said she first tried to resolve the matter behind closed doors, asking officials privately if they would issue an apology for their offensive statement about Chick-fil-A. Instead, officials sent a second email to students and staff, listing more reasons they said supported their initial decision.

Newman announced her resignation on Feb. 14.

“You’re the one who has to live in the world that’s around you, and so if you feel something is not right in that world, you have an obligation to stand up and to say what your perspective is on that,” she said. “We shouldn’t be putting down one person’s values because they don’t align with our personal values.”

Newman said lots of faculty, staff, and students have reached out in support.

While Newman resigned from her position, she said she plans to return as professor of marketing in the next school year.

Chick-fil-A restaurant
A Chick-fil-A restaurant is seen in Chantilly, Virginia on Jan. 2, 2015. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Rider Responds to Criticism

Rider University officials responded to Newman’s resignation.

“While we respect Dr. Newman’s personal decision, we maintain that the decision about choosing an on-campus restaurant franchise was in no way a judgment on religious values,” Kristine Brown, the university’s associate vice president of marketing and communications, told the NJ Advance Media.“Rather, our intention was to foster a sense of respect and belonging of all members of the campus community, including those who identify as LGBTQ+.”

“The University thanks Dr. Newman for her many contributions to Rider since assuming the role of dean in 2017,” Brown added.

It was not clear if any other restaurants were banned from Rider’s campus or which restaurants were chosen by students behind the popular chain.

Chick-fil-A was founded by a Southern Baptist, S. Truett Cathy. Most of its locations are closed on Sundays as well as on Thanksgiving and Christmas in accordance with the founder’s Christian faith.

“He really believed that it was the Sabbath and you shouldn’t work on the Sabbath, and he lived it. He didn’t just talk it. He lived it—’cause he could’ve made billions of dollars more by opening on—over the years—by opening on Sunday. And he chose not to do that,” longtime customer Britt Kugler told the left-leaning NPR after Cathy died in 2014.

The current owner has also donated to organizations that seek to defend the traditional definition of marriage, which has upset some progressives. The chain is regularly praised for its charitable works.

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