SLU Staff & Students March Against Father Biondi

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - SLU faculty angry about their inability to meet face to face with university president Father Lawrence Biondi organized a protest march through the midtown campus Wednesday.  They had been promised Biondi and the Chairman of the Trustees Thomas Brouster would attend Tuesday`s SLU Faculty Senate meeting.

But the trustees` executive committee postponed that session after the chairman announced he would resign this spring.   Faculty Senate leaders saw that as one more sign Biondi had no respect for them.

A statement from a SLU spokesman said the presentation to the Faculty Senate was envisioned as a joint effort by the Chairman of the Board and the SLU President.  The statement went on to criticize comments from the Faculty Senate President as a 'personal attack against Father Biondi' that is 'disrespectful' and 'unwarranted.'

Associate Professor Jason Fritts who is president of the Arts and Sciences Faculty Council and a member of the campus wide Faculty Senate says a report compiled by faculty shows the administration is using 'management by intimidation' to operate the university.   He pointed to a drop in SLU`s rank in the U.S. News and World Report listing of universities from 77 in 2007 to 92 in 2013.  He also said most academic department budgets have not increased since 2000 yet the number of students grew by 25 percent.

A student group has joined the 'no confidence' campaign against Biondi organizing a Facebook page titled 'SLU Students for No Confidence.'  Member  Liz Ramsey echoed the concern about investing in academics.  'We have departments that aren`t getting enough money; we have schools that are being eliminated,' she said.

The Faculty Senate has offered to meet with Biondi and the yet to be elected Trustee Chairman in mid-May.  The Trustees will hold a regular meeting this weekend.

The university will hold a gala event at the Chaifetz Arena Saturday to mark Biondi`s 25th anniversary.  Faculty plan to hold a counter event charging one dollar for dinner outside the arena.

Betsey.Bruce@tvstl.com