Harrington Motion Postponed by University Senate

A motion recommending that the Board of Trustees publicly release the results of its investigation involving Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of the University, before May 6 was tabled at the most recent University Senate meeting.

The University Senate, made up of faculty members, student government representatives and administrators, discussed the motion for the majority of the meeting on Monday, April 15. The Senate serves as the governing body of academic affairs, according to its bylaws, and is “vested with legislative authority over University-wide educational policy.”

When the vote was taken the Senate did not have a quorum and therefore the motion was tabled or postponed, according to Assistant to the Associate Provost Lori Brandston.

Associate Professor Granville Ganter from the English Department and member of the Senate presented the motion at the meeting. It sparked a debate that took up the majority of the hour-long meeting, which was held in Bent Hall room 227 and open to the University Community, according to the by-laws.

Speaking before the Senate members present, Ganter read the language aloud that he wished to have presented to Harrington and the Board of Trustees.

“The St. John’s University Senate expresses its concern that because many routine academic matters have been put on hold while the University waits for the release of the Wohl report,” Ganter said. “The Senate recommends that the President release the finding of the Wohl report prior to the end of classes on May 6th so another semester is not lost to this matter.”

Ganter believes the investigation, which is being performed by an outside counsel at the direction of the Board of Trustees, has had two months to prepare. “There is no reason for the delay,” he said. While adding that he has great respect for the University President and administration, he said this case has been ongoing for far too long.

“I don’t know what more needs to be discovered,” Ganter said.

Ganter also echoed the concerns of faculty and students that he fears the administration could be waiting for summer to release the results of investigation, a time when most faculty and students are not on campus.

One person who spoke out at the meeting opposed to the motion was Dean of the Law School, Michael A. Simons.“I’m going to vote against it,” he said. “…Not a simple situation.” Simons also told people present that he felt a thorough investigation was more important than a quick one. He also noted attorney-client privilege should be considered.

Others who spoke at the meeting said they planned to vote against the motion because the Board of Trustees doesn’t meet again until May 15; they felt the Board should have the opportunity to gather once more before potentially releasing the report. Ultimately, the proposal didn’t garner enough votes for approval. “It was disappointing,” Ganter said. “It was an important motion to bring before the Senate.”

Harrington, meanwhile, did not attend the meeting. The bylaws state that the President shall preside over the regular meetings, but that he may designate another administrator to fulfill his responsibilities. This meeting was overseen by Provost Dr. Robert A. Mangione.

The Senate meets twice a semester.