Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Saint Louis University: Administration Threatens Legal Action Over Professor's Survey

Posted By on Tue, Apr 2, 2013 at 7:00 AM

President Lawrence Biondi - VIA
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  • President Lawrence Biondi

Here's one way to pretty much guarantee negative publicity, courtesy of Saint Louis University officials.

SLU's legal counsel, in an apparent attempt to stop a faculty survey on the embattled university president Father Lawrence Biondi, has threatened legal action against the professor drafting the survey. On what grounds?

Copyright infringement.

"I was absolutely shocked," Steven Harris, a professor in the department of math and computer science, tells Daily RFT. "This is...the same sort of harassment and climate of fear that we've all been talking about."

What is SLU doing now?

See also: - Prof. Matthew Hall Criticizes Lawrence Biondi; Trustees Call Him Immature Liar - SLU Theology Chair Jay Hammond On Lawrence Biondi: "He Creates a Culture of Fear" - Dean Tom Keefe Resigns Over Offensive Remarks: "If I Was Them, I'd Fire Me"

As a quick recap, SLU has been embroiled in controversy for months now, since faculty members last year overwhelmingly voted no-confidence in Biondi, who has faced a string of high-profile resignations in direct protest of his leadership.

For the most part, Biondi has been silent on the growing dissent -- and publicly, top administrators and the board of trustees have essentially ignored the no-confidence vote. (Though in private, some board members have personally attacked those speaking out against Biondi.)

Those critical of the president, including a contingent of students, are hoping that the board of trustees will vote to remove Biondi in an upcoming May meeting.

click to enlarge VIA FACEBOOK

Last week, faculty members received a survey that was intended to help the board of trustees gauge the climate on campus; it irked critics, however, in part because it only had one question that even references the president, who they say is the main source of contention in the first place.

"The intent of the climate survey is not merely to assess the climate of the university, but also to aid the trustees on what to do [at]...the May 4 meeting," Harris, president of the SLU chapter of the American Association of University Professors, tells Daily RFT. "Where are the questions on Biondi?"

So he started drafting a supplemental survey that included some additional questions specifically on Biondi.

That's when he got a harshly worded letter directly from SLU's legal counsel threatening legal action.

Continue for the full letter from SLU legal counsel and more response from critics.

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