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5:29 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Relationship Between SLU Faculty, President Biondi Shows No Signs Of Improvement

Faculty and student protestors outside of Father Biondi's campus residence
Faculty and student protestors outside of Father Biondi's campus residence
Credit Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

The relationship between faculty and administration at St. Louis University is showing no signs of improvement, and that's putting it mildly.

In what has become a common occurrence on campus, faculty and students took to the streets in protest on Wednesday.  This most recent uproar came after a scheduled meeting between the faculty Senate, Biondi and Board of Trustees Chairman Tom Brouster was cancelled.

It’s been a solid year of heavy dysfunction and turmoil at SLU—no confidence votes in Biondi by both faculty and students, the protest resignation of the law school dean, and a recent campus survey showing that roughly 70 percent of faculty think Biondi should be replaced.

Mark Ruff works SLU’s history department and says the way Biondi has handled situation is beyond disrespectful.

“It’s really turned into a moral issue,” said Ruff.  “It’s a sense that the Jesuit mission and the Jesuit identity of the University is at stake.”

In a campus-wide email Biondi said the decision to postpone the meeting with faculty was made by the board of trustees, which is currently occupied with finding a new chair to succeed Brouster.

That excuse didn’t hold much water with the faculty senate.  Senate President Mark Knuepfer issued a statement lambasting Biondi for failing to live up to even the most basic agreements of a cooperative government structure which was agreed to last December.

“President Biondi's last minute cancellation is not surprising as it represents yet another example in a series of missteps and errors in judgment on his part in the past several months thereby adding momentum to the SLU community's campaign to replace him with a more suitable leader for the University, ” wrote Knuepfer.   

“It is implausible that President Biondi is too busy to spend 30 minutes addressing the Faculty Senate; rather, it appears that President Biondi has decided that this appearance would not serve him well in his desperate attempts to remain at the helm of the University until 2018.”

In response to Knuepfer’s letter to the media the University responded with their own statement, again, pointing out that the decision to postpone the meeting with faculty was not made by Father Biondi and that Kneupfer’s words amounted to, “a personal attack against Father Biondi from the President of the Faculty Senate is disrespectful and shows the kind of unwarranted rhetoric that has been aimed at the president, the administration and now at the Board of Trustees.”

Wednesday’s protest involved around 100 faculty and students.  The group marched through campus before physically taping a list of open questions the door of Father Biondi’s campus residence.

“Yesterday Father Biondi chose not come speak to the faculty senate, maybe because he was afraid to answer the questions we were going to ask him,” said Matt Hall who is an assistant professor of political science and law.  “Today we’re going to bring those questions to him.”

Updated 6:26 p.m.

Follow Adam Allington on Twitter:  @aallington