ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR)-- For the first time at St. Louis University, the university`s powerful board of trustees has become involved in the fight over the university president.
Now that both students and faculty at SLU are calling for Biondi to either be fired or investigated. The trustees are stepping in. That`s interesting in that most of the trustees have always been close allies of Biondi`s.
It was a quiet Friday at St. Louis’ Jesuit University, quite a contrast to the past few days. The faculty senate at SLU voted a motion of no confidence in long time president Father Lawrence Biondi. And normally placid SLU students even joined the chorus.
In a surprise move, the 50-member university board of trustees issued a letter Thursday night, promising an investigation. The letter says:
“The board has decided to engage an external, independent consulting firm to conduct an extensive survey of SLU students, faculty, and staff concerning the issues that led to the recent faculty and student resolutions.”
The center of the storm is Father Lawrence Biondi, a Chicago-born priest with six academic degrees who`s run SLU with a firm hand and autocratic style since 1987.
On one hand he’s doubled the size of SLU`s campus and property, he`s a civic mover and shaker.
On the other he`s fired administrators and tried to reduce faculty tenure.
Biondi, meanwhile, is not backing down an inch. An open letter from him this week says:
“Some members of the faculty have presented a distorted view of the university. The information has harmed our university. I love the university and every decision I have made is to make SLU a better place.”
Whether that`s happened is what`s being debated along with whether Biondi has simply been on the job too long.
I tried to contact 21 of SLU`s 50 trustees. In only one case did I actually get to a real person who simply said he was unavailable.