Fr. Donald Harrington, president of St. John’s University (NY) and Fr. Lawrence Biondi, president of St. Louis University have both announced that they will be retiring. Both longtime presidents retire under strong criticism from within and without.
Fr. Harrington, who had come under fire for accepting lavish gifts from a former dean, announced on Friday that he will be retiring July 31. His chief of staff, Robert Wile, plans to resign on June 30. Fr. Harrington had been president at St. John’s for 24 years.
"For quite a while, I have been thinking about when would be the best time to relinquish the leadership role to younger, perhaps more energetic individuals," wrote Fr. Harrington in an email to staff and students. "The urgings of many members of the Board of Trustees and others persuaded me to remain longer than I had originally planned. But the difficulties for everyone during the past year have convinced me, after much prayer and reflection, that the time to leave the presidency has now come."
"It seems the retirement is away of avoiding the hard issue of having Harrington accept responsibility for what happened," said Kathleen Lubey, associate professor of English. "Accountability of the administration may go unexamined."
Fr. Biondi of St. Louis University, made his announcement Saturday during a fund-raising gala celebrating his 25th anniversary as president. His announcement follows months of disagreements with faculty over University policies.
The University did not announce a date for Fr. Biondi’s departure, but said that a search for his replacement would begin this fall.
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