Faculty Writers Deliver Petition to Newman Hall

The five faculty members who drafted the open letter to the Board of Trustees earlier this semester have delivered the document to the office of Rev. Donald J. Harrington, President of the University.

The letter, which can be viewed in its entirety below, contained the signatures of 66 faculty members from the Queens campus.

Dr. Dolores Augustine, a professor of history, told the Torch that all five creators of the petition delivered two copies of the letter to a secretary in Newman Hall. One copy was addressed to Harrington while the other was addressed to Dr. Dorothy Habben, Vice President and Secretary of the University.

The delivery of the petition comes following the release of a statement from Peter D’Angelo, chairman of the Board of Trustees, on Tuesday that addressed the Harrington/Wile/Chang scandal, which is being investigated by an independent investigator, hired by the University.

“It didn’t say anything new,” Augustine said. “It actually indicated a further delay, which is precisely what we’re concerned about.”

Augustine once again called for the University to permit the faculty to be a part of the process for the sake of transparency.

“They’re overlooking the happiness of not just faculty, but students and potential donors as well,” she said.



An Open Letter to the Board of Trustees of St. John’s University

We, the undersigned faculty of St. John’s University, are concerned that the allegations of administrative corruption and conflict of interest have already negatively affected the university’s reputation and ability to achieve its mission. Our students, our alumni, and our faculty are dismayed and seek forthright answers.

We approve of the steps to task an independent party to investigate allegations of wrongdoing. However, because the Board of Trustees has not been able to meet its fiduciary responsibilities to monitor the financial status of the university and the actions of the administration, we fear the possibility that there has been a “serious violation of the public trust” as defined by New York state. (Please see “Statement on the Governance Role of the Trustee or Board Member,” Regents of the University of the State of New York, New York State Education Department, May 2010, pg. 4 http://www.regents.nysed.gov/about/statement_governance.html).

We seek a review that is thorough and comprehensive. In order to restore the university’s credibility, the St. John’s community needs transparency and an independent review committee. Accordingly, there should be…

•    a public release of the recently appointed investigator’s report alongside evidence to support its findings, including minutes of Board meetings and other supporting documents.

•    a detailed forensic audit that can uncover any inappropriate or illegal use of funds.

•    a broad-based oversight committee of faculty, alumni, and student representatives, which reviews all of the above materials and makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees for action.

The only way for the St. John’s community to address allegations against President Donald J. Harrington, his chief of staff Robert D. Wile, and the Board of Trustees is to conduct a review that is open and inclusive. This letter is not about a particular result; the undersigned might well disagree about what the best possible outcomes should be. We do, however, agree that the university needs a process that brings us closer to positive results that now seem so distant.

We believe in the promise of a St. John’s that stands for excellence, integrity, and service. A public release of information and an independent oversight committee would demonstrate that the Board of Trustees is committed to the reputation and future of St. John’s University.

Yours Sincerely,

(66 members of the St. John’s University faculty)