Over the past month, we've reported on the latest controversies of Saint Louis University, first with the high-profile resignation of the theology chair and most recently with the departure of the interim law dean over inappropriate comments. At the center of much of the conflict at SLU is Father Lawrence Biondi, the president who has faced intense backlash from faculty, and the board of trustees, which so far hasn't done much publicly to address the overwhelming dissent.
University officials and the board have been notoriously silent, but when assistant professor Matthew Hall wrote to them to explain why he would be leaving SLU, they responded -- with personal insults and attacks.
"It's extremely difficult," Hall tells Daily RFT of his departure from SLU. "I wish I could stay here and keep teaching these students."
What went wrong?
See also: - Resigned Chair Jay Hammond On Lawrence Biondi: "He Creates a Culture of Fear" - SLU: More Faculty Protest As Theology Dept. Chair Jay Hammond Resigns - Lawrence Biondi: "To Those Of You Who Have Been Critical...I Have Listened" - Dean Tom Keefe Resigns Over Offensive Remarks: "If I Was Them, I'd Fire Me"
Hall, an assistant professor of political science and law, has a detailed explanation about why, despite his best efforts, he cannot stay at SLU and has accepted a job offer at the University of Notre Dame. More on that below.
But what's most noteworthy about his conflict with the administration is his interaction with members of the board of trustees, whom he wrote to in an effort to explain his concerns with the administration and Biondi.
In a December e-mail with the subject "Why I am Leaving Saint Louis University," he explains his frustration with the administration's treatment of faculty and urges the trustees to take action against Biondi (who faced an overwhelming no-confidence vote from faculty last year).
Three replies in particular surprised Hall, who sent us the entire e-mail exchange.
One trustee writes:
I find almost nothing about your correspondence to ring true. As a Trustee I have deep connections to the university and my second daughter just graduated from SLU this last Friday.
The fact that you don't say "To be honest" until the beginning of your 6th paragraph is very telling. Does that admit your not otherwise?
I hope you find life easier in your new path.
Good luck in your future academic endeavors and I hope that you reach a higher level of maturity in your next assignment.
Have a great Holiday Season!
And a third goes after Hall for seeking a better salary from SLU:
Gee Matt---I went back and reviewed your emails to me this past week---in two of them you made it clear it was about the money--"my main concern is salary" and in another you said if we had "matched your offer" you would have stayed. You also wrote, when seeking more money, that "you really liked it here", and when that effort failed you still said you were "very sorry to be leaving." I also recall our meetings (they were always about money) and in none of them did you ever say a word about what a terrible place this University was.... your most recent note refects a struggle between blowing your own horn and tearing down this university and attacking Father Biondi---Good luck Matt; I hope you make a lot of money.
Continue for our interview with Matthew Hall and for the full letter and responses.
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