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Alumni Present Letter, Demands to President Sister Janet and Administrators

On May 26, in conjunction with the S.A.I.N.T.s group, a group of over 100 alumni signed and submitted their own letter of demands regarding tenure to Sister Janet, Sister Anne, Dr. William Leonard, and the Board of Trustees.

The letter was originally posted by Stephen Winkler, a 2012 alumnus, on his personal Facebook and then to the S.A.I.N.T.s Facebook page.

The contents of the letter are listed below and can be viewed here in document form.

Note: Initial drafts of this letter included calls for resignation. While our concerns about leadership remain, those recommendations were placed on hold to focus on the most immediate issue: systemic inequities in the tenure process. An online version of this document is available here.

May 26, 2016

Dear President Eisner:

cc: Sister Anne Donovan, Treasurer of Emmanuel College
William C. Leonard, Vice President for Academic Affairs of Emmanuel College
Emmanuel College Board of Trustees
HUB Editorial Board

As alumni of Emmanuel College, we cannot remain complacent to the ongoing failures of the institution. In particular, we demand immediate responses to: systemic inequities in the tenure review process, financial mismanagement, and failed leadership.

Controversy surrounding Emmanuel’s tenure, promotion, and contract review process is not new. Once again, this year students, alums, and faculty are expressing dismay and distrust in the faculty and promotion tenure committee’s (FPTC) decisions. While many of these reactions have rightfully focused on the scholarly, service, teaching, and mentorship impacts of individuals who are denied tenure, we believe that the tenure review process also suffers from systemic inequities. The most glaring failure of the tenure review process is the absence of a separate committee elected to hear appeals to the original FPTC’s decision. Rather, Emmanuel’s faculty handbook (pp. 35 -36) states that candidates can submit an appeal to the FPTC if they believe the original review, “failed to adequately assess a component or components of the candidate’s portfolio.” It is undemocratic and systematically unfair for an appeal regarding the FPTC’s failure to be heard by the same accused committee. Other institutions, including Simmons and Mount Holyoke, avoid this systemic failure by maintaining separate committees to hear appeals. The existence of appeals committees, the process for appeals, and often the names of these committee members, are documented online and in faculty handbooks at a number of other institutions.

A second concern particular to the 2015-2016 tenure review process at Emmanuel lies in the fact that a single person holds the roles of Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA) and divisional Dean. In multiple steps outlined in the faculty handbook, both the VPAA and “appropriate Deans” are required to meet to make recommendations to the President. Because a single person may hold both the VPAA and ‘appropriate dean’ position, it is unclear whether candidate portfolios received due process.

Finally, we raise concerns regarding the timeline of the tenure review process. According to the faculty handbook, FPTC’s initial recommendation should be submitted to the VPAA by February 1, the VPAA/dean should submit a recommendation to the President by March 7, and the Board of Trustees should vote during the spring meeting. Throughout each stage of this process, the candidate must be informed of any negative recommendations to enable the appeals process to begin. Given that announcements regarding tenure denial were made public on May 20th (see Hub article), it seems unlikely that there was adherence to the timeline.

In addition to failures in the promotion and tenure process, we are concerned about Emmanuel’s financial negligence. Despite the institution’s successful attempts to keep any negative news out of popular media outlets, two recent stories confirm our concerns. First, on May 19th Moody’s downgraded Emmanuel’s financial outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative.’ The report points to risks involved with the bond financing of the new Julie hall, reliance on uncertain partnerships for revenue, and declining student demand. A recent article in the Boston Globe confirms the financial reality of Emmanuel and the devastating impact it has on students and alums.

Finally, the systemic failures of the tenure review process, along with the financial mismanagement of the College, point to a larger issue of failed leadership at Emmanuel. There is no doubt that President Eisner has provided vision and leadership in Emmanuel’s history. However, 37 years is an unprecedented term for a college president. The average term length of college presidents is seven years, according to a 2011 study by the American Council on Education. Although an argument can be made about the need for stability among senior leadership, scholars of various disciplines all recognize the risks to innovation, democratic process, and institutional culture when a single person holds the Presidency for too long. 37 years, or 5 times the national average, is too long. It should be noted that Emmanuel also lacks pioneering leaders in areas outside the Presidency, including in the Treasury and Vice President of Academic Affairs roles (following the sudden departure of Dr. DeLeo last year).

To address these concerns, we recommend the following (in ranked order):
1. Immediately place on hold any tenure reviews until systemic inequities in the process (detailed above) are addressed. In the case of Professors Fortin and Mehta either reverse the decision to deny them promotion and tenure or allow them to go through a revised process next year.
2. Establish an appeals committee that is independent from the FPTC. The Faculty Senate should elect this appeals committee.
3. The Board of Trustees, in coordination with the VPAA, should support an independent and external review of Emmanuel’s tenure review process with an aim of aligning Emmanuel’s processes with industry standards. The external reviewers should include Presidents, VPAAs, and faculty from other institutions.
4. The VPAA should provide proof that the 2015-2016 tenure review process followed the deadlines and procedures outlined in the faculty handbook. Although meeting minutes should not be revealed, proof of meeting dates and roll call of present committee members should be provided.
5. The College should post online the names of FPTC members, and all other college committees.
6. The Board of Trustees should provide a plan of action to address the uncertainties outlined in the Moody’s report.

We make these demands without any disrespect to Emmanuel College. Rather, it is precisely because we respect the College and the intellectual tradition that it instills that we submit these recommendations in an effort to maintain the integrity of Emmanuel College. We request a written response to emmanuel.alums@gmail.com and a submission to the editorial board of the EC HUB by June 6, 2016.

Sincerely,

  1. Stephen Winkler, 2012
  2. Catherine Monaco, 2012
  3. Jordan Cooper, 2013
  4. Kristen Saucier, 2014
  5. Mark H. Poirot, 2014
  6. Sam Nickerson, 2013
  7. Mikasa Famorca, 2012
  8. Brittany Sorice, 2012
  9. Naa Aku Addo, 2013
  10. Kyera Sterling, 2015
  11. Corinne DeCicco, 2014
  12. Marissa Fiumefreddo, 2016
  13. Beril Cakir, 2012
  14. Annalyn Bachmann, 2016
  15. Manuel Jourdain, 2015
  16. Rebecca DiMichele, 2014
  17. Tristyn Sepersky, 2011
  18. Alexandria Ruffo, 2015
  19. Phillipe Miranda, 2015
  20. Nicholas Burke, 2015
  21. Linnea Erickson, 2016
  22. Kristina Ofoedu, 2016
  23. Thomas MacMahon, 2015
  24. Kelsey Ryan, 2014
  25. Rebecca Mauro, 2012
  26. Ryan Lane, 2015
  27. Anastasia Yogas, 2016
  28. Susie Ruppe, 2013
  29. Lauren O’Neil, 2014
  30. Anthony Polanco, 2012
  31. Kinga Irzyk, 2016
  32. Leana Cutone, 2016
  33. Brittany Pennellatore, 2016
  34. Carolina Santamaria, 2016
  35. Rachel Piccirillo, 2016
  36. Maria Blandini, 2016
  37. Judyth Lucien, 2016
  38. Eve Barkin, 2016
  39. Alyssa Wyman, 2016
  40. Sheila Drakeley, 2016
  41. Danielle Jamieson, 2016
  42. Catherine Johnson, 2012
  43. Kirsten Pereira, 2012
  44. Allison Roberts, 2012
  45. Michael Rogers, 2016
  46. Patrick Vittner, 2016
  47. Kerry Drapcho, 2014
  48. Luis Diaz, 2011
  49. Anthony J Andronico, 2015
  50. Hannah Dean, 2016
  51. Joseph Ouellet, 2016
  52. Samantha Rosenbaum, 2015
  53. Mary Stathos, 2016
  54. Cody Diehl, 2015
  55. Carlie Capell, 2016
  56. Emily Larkin, 2016
  57. Taylor Malstrom, 2016
  58. Will Wrigley, 2012
  59. Amy Longwell, 2012
  60. Mike Mottola, 2012
  61. Taylor Wensley, 2012
  62. Allison Harbottle, 2012
  63. Ashley Pierce, 2012
  64. Michél Legendre 2014
  65. Meghan Tschaikowsky, 2012
  66. Danielle (Harvey) Tuffy, 2012
  67. Corey Bailey, 2015
  68. Alex Pho, 2015
  69. Keely Ward, 2016
  70. Monica Bush, 2015
  71. Stephen Boorman, 2012
  72. Sarah Levine, 2014
  73. Gianna Gambardella 2014
  74. Jonathan Gold, 2016
  75. Meghann Soby, 2016
  76. Jennifer Burgess, 2016
  77. Jonny Stevens, 2012
  78. Marissa LaFlamme 2012
  79. Laura Eastaugh 2012
  80. Lauren Van Hoof 2012
  81. Mike DelSignore, 2012
  82. Emily Herr, 2012
  83. Lauren Mullett, 2015
  84. Sarah Aftab, 2013
  85. Grant Kuehl, 2015
  86. Danielle Trusch, 2016
  87. Marlee Brown, 2014
  88. Kyle Hardy, 2016
  89. Meaghan Brown, 2016
  90. Siobhan Billings Pearce, 2016
  91. Dakota Roundtree-Swain, 2016
  92. Joe Figuereo, 2012
  93. Laura Benoit, 2013
  94. Spencer Deschenes, 2014
  95. Veronica Van Jura, 2013
  96. Gabrielle Sartori, 2014
  97. Kelly Smith, 2014
  98. Kathleen Harrison, 2013
  99. Jennifer Nguyen, 2012
  100. Cassandra (Geraghty) Wilfert, 2014
  101. Rachel Aiello, 2016
  102. Hannah McCormack, 2012
  103. Vitor Mateucci, 2016
  104. Matteson Holtman, 2016
  105. Maggie Glover, 2012
  106. Lindsay Cyr, 2012
  107. Elizabeth Longley, 2015
  108. Christa Bohan, 2015
  109. Nic Soucy, 2015
  110. Meredith Wahlberg, 2014
  111. Carissa Tuozzo, 2016
  112. Aaron Fatato, 2012
  113. Jamie Brids, 2012
  114. Brenna Hunt, 2012
  115. Danielle Olsen, 2014
  116. Elizabeth Baxter, 2014
  117. Lauren Russo-Gogel, 2013
  118. Danielle Sheehan, 2013
  119. Laurie Paul, 2016
  120. Kevin Gallegos, 2016
  121. Gabriella Steffenberg, 2016

(To add your name, email your first and last name and graduation year to emmanuel.alums@gmail.com) Updated: 8:27 am EST. 5/26/2016

Posted by on May 26, 2016. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.