This morning, (Monday, July 20th) Dr. Jack Sites, Academic Vice President of Ave Maria University, flew from Houston, where he was attending a meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, to San Francisco, to inform me personally that I was being dismissed from Ave Maria University. Our meeting was amicable and Dr. Sites, as always, acted as a Christian gentleman.
He said that the reason for my dismissal stemmed from a conversation I had in November of 2008 with Jack Donahue, then chairman of the board of AMU. At that time I felt it an obligation to speak to the board chairman before the upcoming board meeting, to make sure he was aware of the urgency of the university’s financial situation. After I had informed him, using projections based on publicly available documents and statements, he asked me what I thought was the solution. I told him that there were policies being followed that were at the root of the problem, that the present administration was irrevocably wedded to those policies, and that without a change of administration the university was at great risk.
Dr. Sites said that Jack Donahue related this conversation to Tom Monaghan, and it was decided (I don’t know specifically by whom) that the university could not have a faculty member making these criticisms of the administration and thus undermining the university.
Dr. Sites told me that there were unspecified others who had similar substantive concerns that I was undermining the university.
I continue to support the university. I pray for its success. I have great admiration for the faculty, students, and many of the staff. I do disagree with some of the policies of the administration. This seems to be the reason I was fired the first time, in March 2007, since the official explanation was “irreconcilable administrative differences”.
Nevertheless, I think it is an accurate summary to say that I am being dismissed as a faculty member because of a private conversation with the chairman of the board in which I made known my criticisms of the university administration; and because of allegations which have not been made known to me and to which I have not been given an opportunity to respond.
I will continue to recommend AMU to students and parents. And I will continue to think my dismissal is another mistake in a long series of unwise decisions. [reference]
I guess it is that time of year again. Back in March of 2007 he was also dismissed from Ave Maria University as provost and as I remember there was quite an outcry until hired back as a theologian. I don’t know Fr. Fessio personally, but he certainly seems to be one who speaks his mind and as this letter shows while remaining quite charitable. He founded Campion College of San Francisco, though had to leave when his order made him go. Though as with all actually obedient priests he does not whine about something being unfair and is actually obedient to his superiors even when I think they were being jerks.
I wish him well on whatever his next endeavor is and will always be thankful to him just for founding Ignatius Press beyond his orthodox awesomeness.