Thursday, April 23, 2009


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Saturday, April 11, 2009



I received the following communication from a source within SJU asking some interesting questions. I'm not sure if this advances the cause towards a successful resolution of our current situation, but it is interesting.

A couple of comments - first, I have not checked out the accuracy of the numbers, however, I assume that the referenced sources back up the statements. Second, to me the questions at the end of the 'game' about UCC funds and their current use are legitimate questions since it is us as the community who supply those. Oblates take a vow of poverty so where does the money go?

So, read on. You may find it useful or useless, inflammatory or legitimate... be your own judge.

Here's a fun game. Go to this web site:
It is a list of UW employees earning more than $100,000.
Now scroll down to "Perrin, David" and you'll see his salary last year was $223,300 (with 893.47 in taxable benefits) (These are tax-free dollars because he is a priest.) So where does that put him in terms of ranking? #6? Only the very top UW administrators make that kind of money.
Why does little SJU with its 30 professors and 24 staff and 1000 full and part time students need to pay its president so much?
SJU pays its president more that UW's Dean of Arts. About $50,000 more. (In fact SJU pays its Dean more than UW pays the Dean of its largest faculty!)
Ken Coates, Dean of Arts, is responsible for over 200 professors who serve 7000 students.
The UW Psychology Department alone is bigger than SJU in terms of faculty. See
And Psych is one of 15 departments in the UW Faculty of Arts.
Yes, but the responsibilities of a president of a Catholic university, the Board exec will say, are so much greater than a department chair or faculty dean. So let's compare apples to apples.
Visit: You will find that Dr. Gerald Killan, Principal of King's University College (a Catholic univeristy attached to the University of Western Ontario) earned $197,899.46 ($5,660.30 in benefits) in 2007. That is some 10% less than David Perrin. But King's is over three times the size of SJU (over 3000 students vs 1000 at SJU) and, by 2007, Killan had nine years of success in the office of Principal (President). David Perrin had no experience at the presidential level and came to SJU with a contract for $220,000!
Or you could look at Lakehead University and see that President Frederick Gilbert earned $245,427.97 ($3,839.20 in benefits) in 2007 -- admittedly more than Fr. Perrin, but only about 10% more. But Lakehead has more than seven times the number of students that SJU has (7,644 vs 1000). It has 290 faculty members to SJU's 30! It's budget is about 9 times larger.
So why did this Board feel it necessary to pay Fr. Perrin $220,000+ ? (These are tax-free dollars because he is a priest.)
Now that he is Director of Chaplaincy Services as well as President, UCC-COC might ask if he is receiving an extra stipend for that work? Is that stipend coming from UCC funds? And if he is not receiving extra money for this new position, are UCC funds now being directed towards his regular salary? It seems to me that the people donating to UCC have a right to know.
The President's contract was negotiated between the Board exec and the President. Not even the rest of the Board knows the details of that document.

Letter from David Seljak re: Unionization

No wonder the faculty have voted to unionize.
Where is the oversight by the Board of Governors? Come on! It's not like alarm bells haven't been going off since last year. You've been sent all sorts of correspondence, and Perrin should have been on a short leash by now. And yet this stuff is still happening?

‘There is nothing as Catholic as forming a union’, says President of SJU Academic Staff Association
Written by David Seljak on April 7, 2009 – 12:52 am
St. Jerome’s Faculty, the Union and Catholic Social Teaching
April 7, 2009 (Catholic education, Catholic schools)
By David Seljak
On March 31, 2009, the faculty at St. Jerome’s University - a Roman Catholic university federated with the University of Waterloo in Waterloo Ontario - voted overwhelmingly to form a union. Twenty-seven (90%) of the 30 faculty named in the bargaining unit cast a ballot and more than 80% voted yes (22 in favour, 5 opposed).
Faculty felt that a union was necessary to protect the sense of community at SJU as well as traditional values of collegial governance, academic freedom (which includes the right to criticize the administration) and the right to participate in the definition of the terms of employment. All of these have been under attack by the President, with the approval of the SJU Board executive. The rest of the Board has only limited access to information.
The movement to certification followed a vote of non-confidence (20 in favour; 2 opposed) in the President, Fr. David Perrin OMI, taken by faculty in January of this year. The President and Chair of the Board dismissed the non-confidence vote as a “symbolic” gesture (the President of Harvard University recently resigned after such a “symbolic gesture”).
In response to that vote, Fr. Perrin stated in a newspaper interview that he was merely implementing the “standard management practices at Canadian universities.” Indeed, Fr. Perrin and the Board Executive have introduced new practices but what faculty object to is that a number of these changes violate a) board-approved policies; b) traditional standards of collegiality and academic freedom; and c) the policies of any university in Canada.
What we oppose is the arbitrary and unilateral imposition of change from the top-down by an administration that is closed to real participation and criticism. What we oppose are changes that are destroying the strong sense of community for which St. Jerome’s was known and admired.
A recent example involves the President’s arbitrary and unilateral change to the Tenure and Promotion policy, specifically a personal interview with himself before the application could go to the Board of Governors.
Two young professors are up for tenure this year. Tenure is very important for professors; it is the guarantor of academic freedom. It also imposes on us a tremendous responsibility to be diligent, serious, and honest about our research. We earn tenure by completing some nine to 14 years of university education followed by six years of teaching, scholarship and service to St. Jerome’s. For example, I received tenure only on July 1, 2002, some fifteen years after I started my PhD studies.
Naturally, universities implement careful procedures for granting tenure. At St. Jerome’s, the candidate prepares an extensive portfolio for a Tenure and Promotions Committee consisting of three professors and the Dean. From there it is sent to three external referees, each one an established (tenured) scholar in the candidate’s area of specialization. The committee then makes a judgment that is passed on to the President as a recommendation (he is not bound by it) and he, in turn, makes a recommendation to the Board of Governors (they are not bound by it), which grants or denies tenure. All of the exhilarating details are available here:
This detailed policy was first developed and approved by the SJU Academic Committee, then brought to College Council (an advisory committee to the President consisting of all SJU community members) and then approved by the Board.
This year, quite out of the blue, Fr. Perrin introduced a new step in the Board-approved procedure. He sent a memo to the two candidates for tenure that asked them to meet with him before he would present their cases to the Board.
The candidates were concerned because a) there is nothing in the policy that says an interview with the President is part of the procedure; b) the interviews were announced after the application process was more than half over; c) there have never been such interviews with past-Presidents at SJU; d) the faculty have expressed their non-confidence in this particular president; and e) the faculty have never heard of such interviews at any other university (it is not a feature of the UW process, for example).
At first, as President of the St. Jerome’s Faculty Association, I suggested to the two candidates that these interviews were probably harmless. I said that Fr. Perrin was just trying to get to know them and their applications a bit better so he could present them more effectively to the Board.
However, on March 27th, the candidates were given a letter outlining six topics that they would be asked to address in the interview; they were informed that the Associate Dean would also be in attendance at the interviews. The content of the questions touched on such issues as their research plans (already part of the application) and their place at SJU given its mission statement. To the candidates - as well as several members of the Tenure and Promotion Committee - these interviews no longer appeared to be informal and collegial. The President, they felt, had introduced a new step in the Tenure and Promotion process - without consulting Academic Committee, College Council or even the Board of Governors.
I know of no university in Canada where last-minute tinkering with the Tenure and Promotions process - an action that could invite enormous risk of liability should tenure be denied - would be considered one of what Fr. Perrin has called the “standard management practices at Canadian universities.” After protests by concerned faculty and on the very day of the union vote, the President sent a memo cancelling the interviews.
It is this kind of arbitrary and unilateral abuse of power that inspired the faculty to form the St. Jerome’s University Academic Staff Association and to give it the right to bargain collectively on behalf of faculty. It is this kind of violation of the “standard management practices at Canadian universities” that has convinced us to protect our most vulnerable colleagues by forming a union.
Finally, faculty believes that certification is in the interests of the St. Jerome’s University community as a whole. It will help bring clarity to relations that are vaguely defined, regularity to processes that are often applied arbitrarily, and unity to a community that is now deeply divided. It will also promote the unique ethos and culture of St. Jerome’s.
Let me state this bluntly: there is nothing as Catholic as forming a union.
Since Pope Leo XIII 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, the Church has consistently supported the right of workers to form unions and workers’ associations. According to Catholic social teaching, such groups protect the subjectivity of workers, promote social justice and allow employees to work towards the common good. While not legally a Catholic organization, the SJU-ASA is committed to these values.
According to Pope John Paul II, the dignity of the human person, what he calls the person’s “subjectivity,” is secured only when employees are able to participate in decisions about their terms of employment and places or work. Employees are meant to be active subjects, not passive objects, in the definition of their conditions of labour. Unions are one means of securing that participation.
But that is not their only function. In his 1981 encyclical on labour Laborem exercens, John Paul II writes:
The purpose of unions is not simply to defend the existing wages and prerogatives of the fraction of workers who belong to them, but also to enable workers to make positive and creative contributions to the firm, the community, and the larger society in an organized and cooperative way. (#20)
While the SJU-ASA will work diligently to protect the rights and interests of its members, it exists so that the academic staff at St. Jerome’s may better serve their students, their university, the society and the Church.
As I said before, there is nothing as Catholic as forming a labour union..
In this respect, the initiative to create a labour union by the SJU-ASA is in line with St. Jerome’s University’s mission statement, its Catholic ethos, and its history of employee participation.
David Seljak, President
St. Jerome’s University Academic Staff Association

Imprint Article re: SJU - VERY Good!

Trouble at St J's prompts vote
St. Jerome’s University Academic Staff Association to push for unionization
Adrienne RawStaff Reporter
The faculty of St. Jerome’s University (SJU) took a vote of no confidence in university president Dr. David Perrin on January 29. Of the 27 ballots cast, 20 were in favour of a “no confidence” motion, two were opposed, and four abstained. The final ballot was spoiled and thus not counted.
The vote sparked a flurry of responses from the community, including several articles and opinion pieces in The Record. But the vote is only a small piece of the story, one event in a long chain that has led to the current drive of SJU’s faculty association: unionization.

Before the arrival of new president David Perrin in August 2007, tension already existed between the Board of Governors and the faculty, and between the Dean and the faculty. “There were some serious issues,” said Dr. David Seljak, president of the university’s faculty association, “but they could have been worked out, and the new president, we thought, would help work them out. So we were very enthusiastic when he arrived, looking forward to working out these problems.”

What we’re seeing at SJU, said Seljak, is “a real crash in morale.”

“This crisis in morale,” he said, “preceded David Perrin’s arrival, but he hasn’t done enough to address it. In fact he’s made it worse.”

A recent campus climate survey aimed at determining the trust faculty and staff had in senior decision-makers revealed startling results with regards to staff morale. “The results were very bad,” said Prof. Steven Furino, a former professor at SJU who is currently teaching math at UW. Some of these numbers included the 80 per cent of all SJU employees who felt the senior administrators didn’t act transparently and the 50 per cent of employees who said they would leave the university if they could find suitable positions at another institution. Only 20 per cent of respondents thought SJU was living up to its ideals as an institution.

“Those are astonishingly poor results,” said Seljak.

When questioned about the results, the president and dean, Furino said, “simply did not answer when asked direct questions. And for the president you will find that a recurring theme. He does not answer questions.” After the results of the survey were published, several SJU staff and faculty attended a private meeting held after hours and off school grounds. “My understanding,” said Furino, “is that all of the staff members who had attended that meeting have either been dismissed or have left under duress.” Furino added that, “In my judgment, there is no legitimate reason to pursue dissidents at a university. That’s large fraction of the function of a university: critical thinking. Dissidents happen all the time.”

Imprint has not been able to confirm whether this private meeting had any bearing on dismissals or departures from SJU.

Since Perrin’s arrival at SJU, eight staff or faculty have retired, resigned, or been dismissed. This number represents a huge turnover rate in an institution where employees traditionally been employed for long periods. In the past, Seljak said, SJU was a “very stable work environment” with one staff departure maybe every 18 months to two years. “People had better opportunities,” said Seljak, “but they stayed because it was a nice place to work.” However since Perrin’s arrival, that environment has changed, resulting in numerous departures. Of the eight departing staff, four were directors.

Furino was one of the departures that occurred after Perrin’s arrival. “Given the breakdown in trust, breakdown in collegiality, and the dysfunction both on the academic side and on the church side, I certainly started to look [for a new position]. I had a meeting with the president that I could only describe as surreal and that convinced me that it was time to go. So I left.”

NO: Academic staff at odds with St. J’s college president

Disputes were not limited to the faculty. The Catholic community that worshipped at St. Jerome’s University, and the university’s chaplaincy team, also clashed with Perrin. A major conflict was the allocation of the $200,000 surplus accumulated through Sunday worship. The worshipping community believed the money should go to services “for the purposes of the chaplaincy,” said Furino, while Perrin argued that the money belonged to the university to be used for whatever purpose the institution deemed necessary, including areas such as maintenance. The issue was resolved in favour of the worshipping community after a year of public debate.

Seljak told Imprint he felt Perrin’s management style also put him in conflict with the university’s three-person chaplaincy team: Father Jim Link, Melinda Szilva, and Carol Persin. This conflict resulted in the resignation of all three of these individuals within the same week. Two took early retirement and one resigned. Perrin, questioned at College Council (composed of all SJU employees acting as an advisory for the president) about the resignations, said that he knew only that the chaplaincy team had resigned or retired for personal reasons. The council, seeking to know why the team had resigned, sought to create a committee to interview the three former employees. These interviews, according to a January 28 memo from Seljak to the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors, were “intended to discover the truth about an event that has serious consequences for the SJU community.”!

The interviews themselves became a source of friction, as the College Council was told by the executive of the board not to conduct the interviews because, according to a July 24 memo to the steering committee of the College Council, the “decision reflects a clear encroachment beyond College Council’s mandate[.]”

With this decision, Seljak said the executive violated policy established by the board of governors and, more seriously, “violated the academic freedom, we felt, of the staff members and the faculty members of St. Jerome’s University.” Academic freedom, Seljak clarified, is not just the right to research and write about what you want: “Academic freedom also means the ability to criticize the institution itself, to criticize the administration of your own university,” Seljak said.
The refusal to allow the College Council to investigate the departures of the chaplaincy team was followed by a memo from the Board of Governors saying that it had instructed the president and the dean not to attend College Council. The official reason was that the council was undertaking actions that were beyond its authority.

Seljak also stated that the issue of entitlement to ask questions arose in this context, though Perrin could not be reached for comment to confirm.

“That’s when the faculty association has to draw the line,” said Seljak. “The president doesn’t have the right to tell us what questions we are entitled or not entitled to ask. This College Council is an advisory body to the president and we have to base our advice on facts, and so we have the right to ask questions.” The faculty was concerned with what they saw as an attempt to suppress the facts.

“We can’t operate in the realm of these kinds of misrepresentations of truth,” Seljak said. It was at this point that the faculty decided to take a vote of non-confidence.

Votes of non-confidence, such as the one undertaken by the faculty at SJU, are not a frequent occurrence, nor are they an event to be taken lightly. The faculty association had three main reasons for holding the vote of non-confidence. The first and foremost of these reasons, said Seljak is that “the president does not respect sufficiently academic freedom and the principle of collegial governance.”

Collegial governance, an idea many in the academic world live by, is an administration model where the president “considers himself to be a colleague of the people that work for him,” said Seljak. While legally the decision-making power is in the hands of the president, “the president usually does not make decisions unilaterally,” Seljak said, arguing that a president instead often takes the advice of his colleagues, who act as an advisory board. “[Collegiality] also means the president requires the confidence of his colleagues,” said Seljak.

“We feel that David Perrin doesn’t understand or accept the principle of collegial governance,” said Seljak, and claimed Perrin made unilateral decisions without consulting the faculty. According to former staff, one of Perrin’s first decisions as president was to change the salary policy for staff. “Changing competition packages is always a big thing,” said Steven Furino, a former professor at SJU currently working at UW. “There is a policy at the University of Waterloo […] about how changes in salary are to be done and he did not abide by that policy.” According to Furino, there was no negotiation with regards to these changes, and they “were never subjected to third party verification.”

“[Perrin is] trying to impose a structure on St. Jerome’s that would institutionalize that kind of business management model,” said Seljak. “Now, there’s nothing wrong with business management if it makes things more efficient and effective, but to impose a business management model that makes things less effective and efficient, that’s a problem.”
Perrin’s management model, Seljak said, has made things less effective and efficient because his unilateral decisions have eroded his faculty support. And if the faculty doesn’t support the president’s leadership, they won’t go to any great lengths to ensure his projects are successful. “We’re all very busy,” said Seljak. “We all have hundreds of things to do. We’ll just do something else.”

Additional reasons for the vote of non-confidence were an evasive style of communication that left individuals feeling as though they were not getting straight answers, and a failure of leadership in addressing the crisis in morale at St. Jerome’s.

In light of the overwhelming results of the non-confidence vote and the ongoing tensions at SJU, the university’s faculty association is currently in the processing of unionizing. The move to pursue certification was also based on the fact that any memorandum of agreement between the faculty association and the administration would be a type of “gentleman’s agreement,” and the faculty and staff would have no legal recourse in the face of violations of the agreement by the Board or the administration. “In the past,” said Seljak, “a high level of trust between faculty, the administration and the board has meant that such questions never arose.” Recent events, however, have changed relations between the faculty and the board.

The new St. Jerome’s University Academic Staff Association, created by the faculty on March 3, has several stated objectives, including to “promote the welfare of the academic staff of the University, keeping in mind the good of the University as a whole.” The association will, according to Seljak, “devote itself to becoming the sole bargaining agent for a bargaining unit,” in this case 30 full-time professors and the university’s librarian. The association has already collected more than the minimum 40 per cent of the bargaining unit needed to apply for a vote of unionization, and this information was presented to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. That vote, Seljak said, will likely occur on March 31. “If you win a majority of that vote,” he said, “you become a union and the administration is forced to negotiate a collective agreement with that union.”

The SJU faculty is currently represented by the Faculty Association at the University of Waterloo (FAUW), which is not a union. If they successfully form a union, they will be leaving UW’s Faculty Association to form their own unionized association. Seljak is confident that a unionized faculty association will be well supported by faculty and staff. He said, however, that, “This is perhaps the most reluctant union organization in Canadian labour history.”

“We have been pushed into certification by an administration that refuses to listen, acts unilaterally, and, frankly, acts unfairly,” said Seljak. He adds that the union’s only desire is to “defend the principle of academic freedom and collegial governance,” and that the union is not planning to make any demands for higher salary or better benefits.

While the original motivations are forming a certified faculty association were linked with the current situation at SJU, Seljak said that, ”many faculty — myself included — have come to believe that unionization is in fact a better way to go in the long run. Many feel that a unionized faculty would provide some guarantee of collegial participation in the decision-making process around terms of employment. Of course, we do not expect to dictate the terms of employment, but we do expect to have a voice.”

“The goal, essentially, is to come to some kind of new relationship with St. Jerome’s University that will help the university better serve its students and its community,” said Seljak.

He later added that, “We really seek co-operation and reconciliation, but in order to have that co-operation and reconciliation you have to have clear boundaries and that’s basically what we’re trying to create.” Certification, he said, will clarify the relationship between the faculty association and the administration, something that has, up to this point, not been clearly defined.

When asked whether he felt St. Jerome’s would continue to function well with Perrin as its president, Furino’s reply was immediate: “Absolutely not.” Though says he enjoyed working at SJU for the people — whom he said were “fabulous to work with” — and the close-knit relationship with students, he said that “more than the president would have to go” before he would consider returning.

When asked to provide his perspective on the events at St. Jerome’s University, Perrin replied: “It is not appropriate for me to comment on the symbolic no-confidence vote while we are looking forward to our external consultant’s report that was contracted by our board of governors in relationship to internal events at St. Jerome’s University.”
In a brief statement released to Imprint on February 19, Sebastien Kundra, in his capacity as president of the St. Jerome’s Students’ Union, said, “St. Jerome’s Students’ Union continues to express full confidence in the president. Currently this situation is not affecting student learning and student life in any capacity. St. Jerome’s Students’ Union is hopeful that this situation will be resolved in the near future.”

Despite repeated attempts, Imprint was unable to get comment from Perrin, or a representative of the St. Jerome’s University Board of Governors for comment.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Letter to BoG from Steve Furino

To:Dorothee Retterath, Chair, Board of Governors
David Perrin, President
Myroslaw Tataryn, Dean
David Seljak, President, St. Jerome's Faculty Association
Ted McGee, Faculty Representative, Board of Governors
Conrad Hewitt, Chair of College Council

It has now been relayed to me several times that my resignation from St. Jerome's University is being described as a "transfer" with career advancement as the intent. I wish to make it absolutely clear that I resigned in utter frustration with the direction St. Jerome's has taken. In particular, I believed that the actions of the President, combined with his unwillingness to work collegially and his inability to accept criticism, would cause lasting damage to the university. My move to the University of Waterloo involved a loss of rank (Associate Professor to Lecturer) and a loss of sabbatical (due to begin Jan. 1, 2009). However, I considered the actions of the President to be so grave, that I had no choice but to resign my position.

When I handed in my resignation, the Dean asked if I had anything to say. I stated that "my position had been made clear in writing" referring to the various related documents and emails that had been circulated. For the sake of clarity and honesty, I would ask that my departure from St. Jerome's be described as a resignation, not as a transfer or career advancement.

Steven Furino
Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing
Faculty of Mathematics
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, ON, Canada

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Letter from the Fr. Jim, Melinda, and Carol


One of the action items on the surveys distributed by Support UCC was to request an investigation into the resignations of our Chaplaincy Team, Jim Link, Melinda Szilva and Carol Persin.
The Chair of the Board of Governors, Dorothee Retterath, continues to hold the line that the departure of the chaplaincy team, while sudden, is not a collapse. In her letter to the Catholic Register responding to an article on SJU she stated:
"the article also created a false impression that chaplaincy at St. Jerome’s has “collapsed.” This is a wildly inaccurate characterization. While chaplaincy is undergoing a time of transition due to early retirement and a resignation, it continues as a vital aspect of our character as a Catholic university."
While a full investigation is unlikely to be initiated, the most likely source of accurate information would be from the consultant's report which is due to be delivered sometime in April. As a community we may or may not ever see that.
However, our former chaplaincy team have all agreed to publicly release their letters to the BoG. You will find them below - in order of presentation: Jim Link, Melinda Szilva and Carol Persin.

To: Dorothee Retterath, Chair, Board of Governors David Perrin, President Myroslaw Tataryn, Dean Jim Robson, Chair, Staff Assembly David Seljak, President, St. Jerome's Faculty Association Andrea Charette, Staff Representative, Board of Governors Ted McGee, Faculty Representative, Board of Governors Conrad Hewitt, Chair of College Council
January 27, 2009
The recent volley of correspondence between the various internal St. Jerome's constituencies and the Board of Governors has sadly reinforced my decision to leave St. Jerome's. In spite of missives to the contrary, it seems that any open and discussion of the issues at St. Jerome's are not welcome. The resignation of Dr. Gregor was ! the last nail in the coffin after so many people here had literally bared their working soul to him ? albeit for naught.
I want to make it perfectly clear that it was never my intention to retire from St. Jerome's at this point in my career. I resigned from my position as chaplain and director of campus ministry as the only recourse I had to managing my wholistic health. My decision to apply for early retirement (at a 12 per cent penalty) was simply a financial parachute for my religious community. My religious community is considering this to be a sabbatical until I will be reassigned to work next year.
A number of issues prompted my decision. First, over the last two years I have noticed a decided shift in the governance of this university. It is moving from a collegial and familial model of working together to a more corporate, hierarchical and less consultative model. Some staff and faculty I have spoken ! with feel that administrative is "dismissive" in listening to their suggestions or ideas. For me as a Resurrectionist, this is certainly counter to the attitude and spirit with which we tried to bring from the spirit of our own mission statement. The qualities of respect and subsidiarity are sadly suffering. Morale is low. I know of some staff who remain that they cry every day before they come to work. Many faculty have admitted that they are "working to rule," that is, they teach and then leave in order to minimalize their presence and contact at St. Jerome's. The staff are divided into two groups and a tension exists between them.
From my position as chaplain for over 16 years, I refuse to have the ministry we have done over these many years trashed or under-valued. My recent contact with some chaplains from across Canada at the National Students conference last week confirmed the respect and admiration they shared for the Melinda and me in our exemplary service as chaplains. I also feel ! that the president and dean do not valued the role of lay women in the church. The president's refusal to accept the title of Melinda as "chaplain" and his insistence that he would only call her the "associate chaplain" and his self insertion as interim chaplain following my surgery this past summer and direct displacement of Melinda's returning to work are but two examples. Melinda was on a secondment as the national coordinator for Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry but the national board had already named the successor at this point. The chair, Fr. Michael Behard, had told Melinda to go back to work at St. Jerome's. In addition, Melinda and I were schedule to host the National Chaplains' conference at St. Jerome's. The president of St. Jerome's as interim chaplain refused to pay the bills for the start up costs. I returned early from my surgery to help host the conference. Melinda and I financed it out of our own pockets.
As a ! long time chaplain I am worried about the loss of a sense of sacred space. Again and again over the past year, I have gone into Notre Dame chapel only to find it being used as storage space for air conditioners or other items designated for the residence. Or else, I find evidence from glasses and pitchers that it is being used for meetings of some unknown nature. In speaking to students at St. Jerome's and from across campus, that chapel is well respected by them as a place of quiet refuge and prayer. It should be protected and respected.
It is also of concern to me that the president and dean have repeatedly said they do not want to cancel Sunday Eucharist at St. Jerome's but in the same breath will criticize me for spending so much time working on a weekend. In my opinion, they greatly undervalue the power of Sunday Eucharist to influence and effect the lives of students. Repeatedly ? and this was reinforced by my encounter with two former alumni last week ? one of the top things that students remem! ber when they look back at St. Jerome's is their experience at Sunday Mass. Melinda and I both know that we can name well over 15 of our former students who are now chaplains, parish ministers, liturgical consultants and one with a PhD in Liturgy who will testify that it was their experience here that influenced their present careers and academic pursuits. As a former alumnus myself I could give the same testimony. For over forty years this pastoral model has been the model of ministry at St. Jerome's. It wasn't broke so why try to fix it?
I can only say that I am deeply saddened by the decision I had to make to resign. I would ask that any mention of my departure be accurately referred to as a resignation and not a retirement. I refuse to be part of the "spin-doctoring" that has surrounded the departure or firing of recent previous employees here at St. Jerome's. We have identified St. Jerome's as a place which has "enthusia! sm for the truth;" I only hope we are indeed committed to it.
Fr. Jim Link, C.R.Former shared owner and founder of St. Jerome's University

January 29, 2009
To: Dorothee Retterath, Chair, Board of GovernorsDavid Perrin, PresidentMyroslaw Tataryn, DeanJim Robson, Chair, Staff AssemblyDavid Seljak, President, St. Jerome?s Faculty AssociationAndrea Charette, Staff Representative, Board of GovernorsTed McGee, Faculty Representative, Board of GovernorsConrad Hewitt, Chair of College Council

A recent media release was sent out by Dr. Perrin to the staff, faculty and members of the Board of Governors announcing the new position I accepted in January. I am not sure how he got that announcement since it was not sent to St. Jerome's. I want to be clear that I applied for the position because I knew I needed to leave St. Jerome's. I did not in any way encourage any member of College Council to ask for an ex! it interview. I had thought of my meeting with Dr. Gregor as an exit interview of sorts. It is extremely unfortunate that we will never see his report due to his resignation. I was also very hurt to hear the Executive Committee say that even if the Steering Committee did interview us they wouldn't allow the board to see the results. Why are they so convinced that the board should not hear from faculty and staff about their experience? I have a question to ask those who continue to de-value the experience of those who feel they have been treated unjustly. How can you reduce the experience of these people to acts of ingratitude or over-dramatization? What did I have to gain in speaking up when I did? What did I have to gain by quitting my job? What did I have to gain by losing my faith community? I continue to grieve these losses. Honesty led me to leave St. Jerome's and endure these losses. What I have retained is my sense of self-respect. ! When I first came to St. Jerome's things fell into place. I truly felt God was calling me to be there. Once again I have been given a new path that feels like a gift. I was offered a very good job at the beginning of January. I am very grateful for the chance to work for an organization dedicated to the valuable work of helping people find Hope in times of crisis. The experience is like having been dead and then being brought back to life. I truly hope that St. Jerome's will have a similar transformation. May it one day be again the St. Jerome's we knew and loved and fought for with pride. Sincerely, Melinda Szilva, Former Chaplain

January 28, 2009

To: Dorothee Retterath, Chair, Board of Governors
David Perrin, President
Myroslaw Tataryn, Dean
Jim Robson, Chair, Staff Assembly
David Seljak, President , St. Jerome’s Faculty Association
Andrea Charette, Staff Representative, Board of Governors
Ted McGee, Faculty Representative, Board of Governors
Conrad Hewitt, Chair of College Council

I wish to communicate to you my disappointment in the decision by the Executive Committee of the SJU Board to reject the motion by College Council to conduct interviews with the outgoing chaplaincy. I felt that the interview process was one way to inform Board members of a conflict that has led t the resignation of the entire chaplaincy team without going public. The decision by the Executive Committee now requires that I state in a public letter why I am leaving.

I do not write this letter to assign blame but simply to state publicly that it is not accurate to describe my departure from St. Jerome’s as a happy decision to take early retirement as has been done on several occasions. I resign my position with great sadness and as a direct result of the crisis in morale and confidence that is found at almost every level as SJU.

I pray that St. Jerome’s will find a way to move past these problems in the near future.


Carol Persin