I am not surprised at the questions being raised about the leadership of President Wilson Hess at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

Bowdoin College recently announced that some of its athletes would be disciplined for dressing as Native Americans at a “Cracksgiving” party, but President Hess helped run nursing student Ted Wilbur out of UMFK because of his relationship with Kaci Hickox, who treated Ebola patients in Africa.

To my knowledge, neither Hess nor the dean of UMFK’s nursing program made any public comment about the threats to Wilbur if he tried to return to the school. Instead, they hid behind banal news releases from University of Maine System spokesman Dan Demeritt about the difficult balancing act the administration engaged in to protect the interests of all parties.

Maybe we do need to defer to the irrational fears of the Fort Kent Facebook set who don’t have the time or inclination to understand some of the science or medicine involved with Ebola. But surely we have the right to expect more from the premiere institution of higher learning in the area. UMFK had a perfect opportunity to lead and teach, but it did neither.

I suspect that Hess and UMFK did not undertake this course of action without input from university system Chancellor James Page and maybe the full board of trustees, so this abject failure of leadership taints everyone who had a chance to speak up but did not. Based on their response to the “Cracksgiving” party, I would be willing to bet that Bowdoin officials would have handled the Ted Wilbur matter with some real leadership and institutional courage. Maybe these Bowdoin folks really are smarter than the rest of us.

Dick Langley

Fort Fairfield