Minutes on faculty delegation meeting with President David Wippman about Jeff McArn
On Thursday, August 3 Justin Clark (Philosophy), Marianne Janack (Philosophy), Jaime Kucinskas (Sociology), Steve Orvis (Government), Brent Rodriguez-Plate (Religious Studies), and Benj Widiss (Literature and Creative Writing) met with President David Wippman to talk about the decision to dismiss Jeff McArn, College Chaplain and the manner in which he was dismissed.
Though the President worried that posting notes about the meeting on FACDISC would undermine the prospects for a positive resolution to the situation, we have heard from a number of faculty and staff who are concerned about this decision, the way it was implemented, and what this means for other at-will employees. We thought that we owed them--and our faculty colleagues, who have expressed concern about this decision-- an account of the meeting. So we have decided that we should post minutes from the meeting. This report will also be forwarded to people who are not on FACDISC, since many of them have been waiting for news about the meeting.
The meeting began at 2:15 in the Trustee Room of Buttrick Hall
The meeting opened with faculty acknowledging that they realized that David would not be able to discuss personnel issues with them, but that many faculty and staff are perplexed and disturbed by the decision to fire Jeff McArn, the College Chaplain.
The President said that it was too bad that people were speculating that Jeff's dismissal was a result of Jeff acting in ways that were morally objectionable. This way of separating people from the College has been a policy for some time now, he said. He did not say who implemented the policy or how long it has been a policy, though he said he would review it.
The President alo wanted to set the record straight: he said that Jeff McArn was accompanied by the Director of Campus Safety--not escorted--and that the reason for this was that Jeff would feel more comfortable being accompanied by someone from his own division (presumably the division of student life), rather than by Steve Stemkowski, who would normally accompany the separated employee. The President realizes now that this was probably a bad decision.
The President told the faculty that he knew things that they did not know (which, of course, they knew). The faculty present at the meeting wanted to make sure that the President and the Dean of Student Life (Chris Card) knew what they knew--all the ways that Jeff has contributed to experiential learning, the curriculum, student mentoring, and community building. And how this way of firing an important member of the community undermined trust and morale.
They wanted the President to know that many people on campus object to both the decision and the inhumane way it was executed, given that Jeff was not guilty of something immoral or illegal and did not represent a danger to the College or members of the College community. (Note: both the President and the Dean of Student Life have denied that Jeff was guilty of something immoral or illegal.)
The President said that Jeff might be able to come back and teach a course or two.
The President said that he would have to talk to Jeff about what happens next.
The faculty urged the President to think creatively about how Jeff's talents might be used for the good of the College and the students.
The meeting concluded at 3:10 pm.
Respectfully submitted by