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4:43 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

SLU Chairman Of The Board Steps Down

Thomas Brouster
Thomas Brouster
Credit Reliance Bancshares, Inc.

The Chairman of the Board of St. Louis University is resigning.

Tom Brouster gave notice to the board, citing the need to spend more time at his day job and with family.

Brouster says his decision was not motivated by the turmoil that has engulfed the university over the past 8 months, including a no-confidence vote against SLU President, Father Lawrence Biondi.

“Simply put, I just don’t have the time,” said Brouster, “and given some of the things that have happened in the university over this last 8 months, it almost requires somebody that’s almost full time.  I think maybe someone who’s retired.

Brouster has spent a total of 12 years on the SLU Board of Trustees and assumed the chairmanship last September.

He is also the chairman of Reliance Bancshares Inc., where he played a pivotal role as a turnaround specialist, raising $31 million for the company in bid to expand the bank’s operations.

Brouster says the decision to stop down was not a reflection on the leadership of Father Biondi, or a split among board members about whether Biondi should step down. 

“It’s just been a terrible situation for him.  You know, but he has listened, the board has listened.  And whatever father’s future is, is going to be decided upon what his best interest is and what he believes is the right thing and an honorable thing to do.”

Brouster says the board has taken steps to implement a system of shared governance with faculty.

SLU has seen the several a string of high-profile staff leave recently.  Last November Manoj Patankar, SLU's Vice President of Academic Affairs was pressured into resigning, amid a controversy over changes he tried to make to the university's tenure system.  Patankar's removal did little to quite the discord among faculty, many of whom continue to call for Biondi to retire, or be forced to resign. 

Likewise, the dean of the SLU Law School abruptly quit last August, citing Father Biondi's leadership as her reason for quitting.

A campus-wide survey conducted by the St. Louis chapter of the American Association of University Professors released on Thursday found that 73 percent of faculty would like to see Biondi step down .

Rather than dismiss the results of the survey as Biondi has done in the past, SLU's legal council issued a warning letter to the AAUP, claiming that the survey is in violation of the university's copyright.

Follow Adam Allington on Twitter:  @aallington