Monday, November 24, 2014

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Catholic Education Daily

 

Tensions Continue to Rise at St. Louis University over Governance

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the governance controversy at St. Louis University continues to flare. This time, tensions have risen over allegations that President Fr. Lawrence Biondi had two faculty members removed from a Student Government Association meeting where he was speaking, and the decision to cancel the president's subsequent meeting with the Faculty Senate.

The Post-Dispatch reported that after arriving at a question and answer meeting on April 25, Biondi spoke with the president of the student government association, who then asked two faculty members present to leave the room. According to the association's rules, the meetings are considered open.

“We looked at each other, a little bit surprised. And we left,” said faculty member Kathryn Kuhn, who attended the meeting with colleague Gregory Beabout. “I found it very disheartening. It seems counter to the Jesuit mission of the university.” 

Subsequently, the Arts and Sciences Faculty Council voted to censure the president for having the faculty members removed from the meeting. This follows last year's Student Senate and Faculty Senate votes of no confidence for Biondi.

The University defended the president's actions with a statement.

"The meeting Wednesday night with Father Biondi was planned as a dialogue between the president and student government representatives only," said the statement. "That dialogue took place as agreed, and Father Biondi appreciated the opportunity to have a candid conversation with the student leaders."

Biondi had been scheduled to speak to the Faculty Senate yesterday, but cancelled that meeting.

“President Biondi’s last minute cancellation is not surprising as it represents yet another example in a series of missteps and errors in judgment on his part in the past several months, thereby adding momentum to the SLU community’s campaign to replace him with a more suitable leader for the University,” said Mark Knuepfer, faculty senate president, in an email.

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