It is with great sorrow that we come together today with the departure of our president and dear friend, Fr. Julio Giulietti, S.J. We have all come here to seek the truth, and to know and understand what has happened within the university walls and what has become of the reputation of WJU. In this light, please invite anyone to read the blog and feel free to comment as you wish.

Any posts with profanity are not welcome, otherwise, please speak your mind. You are a part of this university and we want to hear your voice!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Response to the Provincial's Visit

As I live in Washington, DC and am a good friend of two couples whose children attend Wheeling Jesuit, I was curious to know about the visit of the Provincial Superior of the Province of Maryland Wheeling earlier this week. I hear that Fr. Provincial Shea did not say anything about the crisis at Wheeling Jesuit nor of the ridiculous innuendos imposed on Fr. Giulietti.  And this was all in view of what Fr. Charles Currie and the interim leaders at Wheeling said after a Mass in Washington earlier a short time ago. Fr. Currie, to his credit, stated publicly that Fr. Giulietti was not involved in anything improper, unethical or immoral while at Wheeling Jesuit.  Is that statement not contrary to what others, notably Miss Friday and Mr. Fisher, have been saying for months: that they are not free to disclose what information they know about Fr. Julio.  What a ludicrous statement that is in view of the public statement of Fr. Currie exonerating Fr. Giulietti from any wrong doing.  Such a statement is aimed at ruining a good man's reputation bu innuendo just because they do not know how else to cover up their personal hatred for a Jesuit who is of superior intellect and moral character.

Students are not stupid. Do not Mr. Fisher and Miss Friday realize that the behavior of the board of directors, trustees and those now "leading" Wheeling Jesuit are speaking with forked tongs? Do not Mr. Fisher and Miss Friday know what Fr. Currie told friends of Wheeling in Washington just a short time ago in DC?  It seems they are not even aware of who is saying what about whom.  Certainly my friends' children are not unaware.  Is Wheeling Jesuit prepared for a significant number of students transferring to other colleges in January followed by an even greater number in June?  Will parents want to send their children to a college where trashing good people is the standard behavior of board members?

Larry Catraro

The Provincial Cometh

November 16, 2009

Was it a media blitz in the last few days, the coverage of the Wheeling Jesuit University president-firing and the aftermath?

Not quite, but the WJU board and its acting president did come out of hiding, smoked out by mass-medium coverage of slam-bang accusations by a high-profile West Virginian whom the mediums all know about.  (He’s in the clips.)

The bishop didn’t do it, the acting president and board spokeswoman trumpeted, speaking for themselves and for the Jesuit provincial superior, Rev. James M. Shea, SJ, of Towson, MD.

MD Prov Shea

Indeed, Fr. Shea has approved the behavior of his three fellow Jesuits — the local superior, the president of another Jesuit university, and the operator of a Pennsylvania retreat house, each a “trustee” of WJU — pretty much since they gave a fourth Jesuit, also a trustee, the boot in absentia as WJU president while apparently keeping a fifth out of the loop lest he veto the ouster.

To be kept in mind is the first rule of home-office-based executives, not to second-guess operators in the field.  They are home-office appointees, for one thing, and are on the scene, for another, while executives are not.  To top it off, the executive in this case has neither interest in nor (probably) stomach for an independent investigation.

If there’s something rotten in the state of West Virginia, he relies on local authorities to tell him.  It takes more than indignation expressed and accusations made by local non-Jesuits to get him, the provincial, off a dime.

Besides, in this case he is a lifelong chaplain and pastor, most recently pastor of the Jesuits’ Georgetown (DC) parish.  He’s a pastor, with all the one-on-one impulses and expertise that implies — with a doctorate in pastoral care from Southern Methodist, no less.  It’s his specialty.

He ran a parish in a sophisticated neighborhood — no small thing — but university administration and politics he probably knows from rec-room chatter and the like, to judge by his resume.

It should never have been in doubt, therefore, that he would endorse the WJU ouster, as sloppily as it was conducted, if not deceitfully.  On the other hand, when anguished cries from West Virginia arrived by U.S. mail, it might have been hoped, if not expected, that he would revert to a tried and true pastoral approach and write back; but he did not.

It’s a jungle out here, true.  SNAP and their lawyers wait to haul him before a civil court.  Money is at stake.  Oregon Province has declared bankruptcy.  In Seattle the Jesuit university president, a former provincial, is being sued for keeping under his hat the abuse of hundreds of Eskimos by dozens of Jesuits.

The Maryland Provincial can be like the Huron Indians of 400 years ago who took it on the chin for Jesus’ sake and went out of business, destroyed by the un-Jesus-like Iroquois, as the movie “Black Robe” would have it.  Or he can be very, very careful, giving nothing his enemies might use against him.

He can sit on letters and say nothing, not even when he has something to say, leaving it to non-Jesuit officialdom to pass on his approval of the mysterious WJU firing.  He himself stays out of it — or did until today, when he presided at the St. Joseph Pignatelli liturgy on campus.  Perhaps more later about that pregnant appearance . . .

Later: If pregnant, not yet delivered, is the word from Wheeling.  Shea did nothing of note in this context at the Pignatelli mass but is staying in Wheeling for a few days.  It’s his annual “visitation” of the Jesuit community there, when he has one-on-one conferences with each, after which he will have the low-down.  Icing on the cake, one may assume: how could he in the past have been so sure of the wisdom of what transpired if he didn’t have it?

Indeed, as an astute observer noted to Blithe Spirit, the removal of Giulietti had to be a Jesuit thing, for that matter a provincial’s decision.  Civil legality has no room for three Jesuits in a conference call removing a university president.  It was the religious superior that did it.  Giulietti was remanded back to his own province, New England, case closed.  He served in Maryland (province) at sufferance of the Maryland provincial.  Sufferance withdrawn, Giulietti withdrew.

So it’s a fool’s errand to ask Shea to save the day, no matter who you are, including Giulietti’s sole trustee-supporter, Rev. Ed Glynn SJ, a former Maryland provincial and successively president of three Jesuit universities.  This is as much religious-community politics as university politics.

- as published in Blithe Spirit, the Blog

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wheeling Jesuit alum withdraws gift after president's ouster

November 11, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston man and Wheeling Jesuit graduate will not give about $650,000 in money and property he planned to donate to the school in Wheeling, because of what he considers the "cowardly, deceitful and morally perverse" ouster of former President Julio Giulietti in August.

In a letter to Wheeling Jesuit's Interim President J. Davitt McAteer, Charleston's Steve Haid said he had planned to leave $200,000 for a scholarship in his will, along with three properties in Canaan Valley valued at $450,000 to the university's endowment. Haid addressed the letter Oct. 18.

"It's unfortunate that Mr. Haid takes this position on withdrawing his estate gift," McAteer said in a prepared statement. "We have not seen any decline in our fundraising numbers and donations. We are moving forward and working on the business of running a university in a positive manner.

"We regret that Mr. Haid cannot join us."

In early August, a slight majority of the university's Board of Trustees decided not to keep Giulietti on as president. At the time, the board was made up of Giulietti and four other Jesuit priests.

A meeting of the university's board of directors preceded their vote. Charleston attorney Rudolph DiTrapano, a former member, said the board of directors received no reason at the meeting why they were to vote on Giulietti's removal. There had been no allegations of misconduct, DiTrapano said.

Like Haid, DiTrapano also plans to stop funding a scholarship at Wheeling Jesuit.

The board of directors didn't get enough votes to remove Giulietti, but the board of trustees' vote trumped the earlier decision. Haid said at least three members of the board of trustees met behind Giulietti's back when the decision was made to remove him.

"I was outraged. That's why I resigned," DiTrapano said of the vote. "I thought Giulietti was very gifted. He was a very unusually bright priest."

Haid said Giulietti is fluent in five languages and was well liked by students and faculty at the Wheeling campus. Under Giulietti, Haid was the administrative assistant for planned and endowed giving. Haid acted as an unpaid volunteer and did not receive salary, travel expenses or meal reimbursements, he said.

Haid, a registered lobbyist in Charleston, was Secretary of Education and the Arts under former Gov. Gaston Caperton. He has never been a paid lobbyist for Wheeling Jesuit, he said.

In the letter, Haid largely blames Bishop Michael Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and some unnamed members of the university board of directors for Giulietti's "lynching."

Haid wrote that Giulietti had sought to acquire Mount de Chantal's property in Wheeling, on the site of an old Catholic girls' school, for Wheeling Jesuit. According to Haid's letter, the Visitation Sisters who operated the girls' school were "strongly committed to conveying the property" to the university. The sisters were close to Giulietti, Haid said.

Haid believes that Bransfield had his own interest in the Mount de Chantal property, and wanted to "slap down a Jesuit priest" who sought to acquire it for Wheeling Jesuit.

"As the letter indicates, there has been a hostile takeover of the university by factions controlled by the bishop and other elements that I don't think are supportive of the mission of the university or its rich history or commitment to quality education," Haid said Wednesday.

Bryan Minor, a spokesman for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, disagreed with Haid.

"Bishop Bransfield has repeatedly indicated that he did not have a role in the selection of Father Julio Giulietti as the president of Wheeling Jesuit University and he has not had a role in the departure of Father Giulietti," Minor said Wednesday. "Wheeling Jesuit University does not fall under the umbrella of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. We do share a common ministry to the young men and women of West Virginia, and the diocese and the university do continue to collaborate because Wheeling Jesuit is the only Catholic institution of higher education in West Virginia."

In a Wheeling Jesuit press release dated Aug. 6, no reason was given for Giulietti's removal as president. The release noted that Giulietti would leave the university to "continue pursuit of his ministry," which focused on spirituality, faith, personal development and international outreach.

"That was an attempt to sugarcoat a bitter pill; that's all that was," Haid said.

In a university press release dated Oct. 28, the school announced that it had halted its search for a new president after two months of work. For the first time, the school has opened the presidential search to include candidates who are not Jesuit priests.

In the wake of Giulietti's departure, Haid believes the university cannot attract a quality candidate.

"The truth of the matter is nobody wants to go there," he said. "They had a great president and they ran him out of town and consequently they can't find anyone worthy of the job."

In a prepared statement, Wheeling Jesuit officials disagreed with Haid, and said they suspended the search in order to review the best options for reopening the hiring process "after the final candidate field weakened." The decision was based on the opinions of the presidential search committee, which includes 11 members of the WJU community, including students, alumni and faculty.

"University presidents come from a highly competitive field of professionals and it's not unusual for a search to take longer than planned and to twist and turn along the way. It has absolutely nothing to do with the August departure of our previous president," Margaret "Mimie" Helm, chairwoman of the Presidential Search Committee and vice chairwoman of the board of directors, said in a prepared statement. "This is also the first time that the position is open to lay persons and not just Jesuit priests, which also changes the search from our past experience."

McAteer chose against being a permanent candidate for president.

- by Davin White, Staff writer and Advertiser, as published in the Charleston Gazette

WJU Losing $650,000 Contribution

November 13, 2009

Charleston lobbyist Steve Haid plans to withdraw a planned $650,000 gift to his alma mater, Wheeling Jesuit University, because he objects to the abrupt firing of the school's former president, the Rev. Julio Giulietti.

Haid believes Giulietti was forced out in a power struggle involving the Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

WJU and Diocese officials, however, deny that Bransfield was instrumental in Giulietti's Aug. 5 firing.

Margaret Helm, vice chairwoman of the WJU Board of Directors, said the board developed a difference of opinions concerning Giulietti's performance.

"The majority of the board voted to remove Giulietti, and the Board of Trustees, which has the final responsibility for the university, and is made up of Jesuits, voted to remove Giulietti from his position as president," she wrote in a prepared statement.

The Rev. James Shea, provincial of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, stressed that Bransfield played no role in the firing.

J. Davitt McAteer, interim WJU president, said in a news release that the university continues to raise funds, despite Haid's decision.

"Haid is one of 10,000 graduates of Wheeling Jesuit University and our fundraising efforts are continuing. Since Aug. 6, nearly 500 alumni have made donations. In fact, the number of pledges to the President's Circle, which has declined over the past two years, have increased over the past three months."

Bryan Minor, a spokesman for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, also said the bishop had nothing to do with Giulietti's selection or departure from the university.

The university has temporarily halted its search for a new president. For the first time, the university is considering candidates who aren't Jesuit priests. Haid is not a member of the search committee.

Haid previously served as an unpaid assistant helping to generate donations to the university under Giulietti.

- by Casey Junkins Staff Writer With AP Dispatches, as published in the Wheeling News-Register

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Where is the president?

The excitement was high. 

First was the news that the search for a new president for Wheeling Jesuit would be a serious one and underway by October.  Interviews would occur in October, the champion announced in November and he or she in place for the New Year.  The search would be open to all qualified candidates assuring us of a win-win for WJU.  After all, the new president will be the fifth president in ten years.  Excitement was high indeed. Thirty-five applications! Seven serious candidates gave way to three and then two finalists. (No Jesuits dared apply!)

But in later October, William Fisher, Wheeling Jesuit Board Chair, announced “We were hoping to appoint a new president by the first of the year, but the process of hiring a college president takes time, and we want to be as thorough as possible in finding the right leader for the university."

Yes, it is about leadership.

Does Fisher mean the first search was rushed and not thorough in finding the right leader among thirty-five candidates?  What to do?  Might he be considering a reinstallation of the popular president, Fr. Giulietti, so rudely terminated in August?  And if so, would Fr. Giulietti be foolish enough to return to Wheeling Jesuit now?  I doubt it.  A pity though.  He was a read leader.

Larry Catraro

Prominent Wheeling Jesuit alum slams Giulietti firing

11/06/2009 at 5:38 pm

A contributor and volunteer fund-raiser for Wheeling Jesuit University has withdrawn his promised support amounting to $650,000 in cash and property bequests in protest of the firing in August of Rev. Julio Giulietti, SJ, as president.

The firing was “the most cowardly, deceitful and morally perverse action that I have ever witnessed,” said Stephen E. Haid in an Oct. 18 letter to interim President J. Davitt McAteer.  Blithe Spirit has obtained a copy of the letter.

Haid, a 1963 graduate of Wheeling Jesuit and longtime teacher at West Virginia University until becoming a teachers union lobbyist and then campaign chairman and later cabinet member in Gov. Gaston Caperton’s administration, blames the firing on three people or groups:

* Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling, who “wanted to slap [Giulietti] down” because Giulietti “sought to acquire the [adjacent] Mount de Chantal property for Wheeling Jesuit.”

* “An element on the Board of Directors . . . who want to micromanage the University, who want any president to be an errand boy.”

* The three Jesuit trustees who “in an irregular night session” voted to fire Giulietti.

Haid was named last March by Guilietti as one of two Special Assistants to the President for Advancement to work on planned giving, endowment development and alumni partnerships, with an office on campus.

It was a continuation of his working “very closely” with Guilietti “for at least a year,” he said in his letter.

Among Haid’s other activities is to serve with Bishop Bransfield on the board of the West Virginia KIDS COUNT Fund, founded in 1989 by Gov. Caperton, who later became president of The College Board.

Haid has also served on the board of governors of Marshall University, in Huntington, WV — at one time as a member of its executive committee.

- as published in Blithe Spirit, the Blog

Letter to Mr. J. Davitt McAteer

Mr. J. Davitt McAteer
Interim President
Wheeling Jesuit University
Washington Ave.
Wheeling WV 26003

October 18, 2009

Dear Mr. McAteer:

By this letter I am informing you of the withdrawal of my Declaration of Intent which was intended for the establishment of the Leo and Elizabeth Haid Scholarship. My will formerly provided a $200,000 allocation for this aforesaid purpose.

Secondly, three properties in Canaan Valley, WV, valued at $450,000, which I intended to donate to the endowment, will now be committed to purposes more in keeping with the founding philosophy of Wheeling Jesuit University.

The actions of the Board of Trustees in firing President Julio Giulietti, S.J. constitutes the most cowardly, deceitful and morally perverse action that I have ever witnessed. For at least a year I worked very closely with Fr. Giulietti on the planned giving campaign. I did so as an unpaid volunteer, accepting no salary, no reimbursement for expenses or travel, all the while paying for lunches, dinners, and receptions directly associated with the planned giving campaign out of my own pocket.

I tell you this not to brag or ask for recognition, but to make it clear that my efforts were not venal or self serving. I simply wanted to help. The record will clearly show that we recruited at least seven members to the Troy Legacy Society and garnered pledge commitments in endowed and planned gifts well in excess of six million dollars.

Let me be very clear; I have served in a number of executive positions where I have been able to evaluate leadership. I have managed gubernatorial campaigns, served as a Cabinet level Secretary of Education and the Arts, as an executive representing an association of 20,000 teachers, and as a member of the Marshall Board of Governors.

In my judgment and that of virtually everyone who worked closely with President Giulietti, his performance was outstanding. He was the first at work everyday, and quite frequently made calls late into the evening. I frequently heard, “Steve, how are we doing?” and “What can I do to help?” His spirit and enthusiasm were contagious.

I was deeply moved by his sensitive and caring attention to every person. He knew the cafeteria workers and custodians by name and would stop to talk to them and try to understand their challenges in life. The executive meetings that I attended at his request were well organized and designed to move a positive agenda.

I observed firsthand his highly successful efforts at student recruitment and building relationships in the Wheeling community and throughout West Virginia. One former legislator and now a current member of Governor Manchin’s staff told me that, “Father Julio was the best thing that ever happened to Jesuit.” Wherever I went I heard similar comments.

Of course, most of the involved alumni know what his ouster is all about. First and foremost, Father Julio’s lynching was the handiwork of Bishop Michael Bransfield, who wanted to slap down a Jesuit priest who sought to acquire the Mount de Chantal property for Wheeling Jesuit. Clearly, the Bishop had his own design, notwithstanding the fact that the Visitation Sisters were strongly committed to conveying the property to
Wheeling Jesuit University. Beyond any doubt, the Bishop was an activist leader in the conspiracy against Father Julio.

Secondly, there is an element on the Board of Directors, led by a few alumni, who want to micromanage the University, who want any president to be an errand boy, whose messianic obsessions led to the firing of Father Lundy, and whose persistent intermeddling was a constant cross for Father Hacala to bear. There can be no positive move forward at WJU until these incompetents have taken their appropriate leave.

Finally, and most regrettably, a few Jesuits on the Board of Trustees (three, to be exact) met in an irregular night session to oust Father Julio. Father Ed Glynn and Father Julio, also members of the Board of Trustees, were not even notified of the meeting. These three Jesuits must explain their own actions, if not to the WJU community, then finally to a Higher Authority.

In sum, I stand by my original conclusion that the firing of President Giulietti, S.J. constitutes the most cowardly, deceitful and morally perverse action that I have ever witnessed. It is worth reading part of the Preamble to the Wheeling Jesuit University Bylaws:
“Wheeling Jesuit University is in the service of society, and this service implies a twofold dedication: first, to truth, its transmission and enlargement; and secondly, to the development of students as wiser and more authentic human beings, characterized, not solely by intellectual strength, but also by an holistic maturing in aesthetic, moral, and religious values.”

These words of the Preamble are nothing but hollow phrases to the current leadership that has usurped power at Wheeling Jesuit. In my judgment, they do not deserve the support of those who still believe in this statement, and who, at least, try to exemplify what we
were taught as young students.

I grieve for all the good and great men of the Society of Jesus and the laypersons who invested their lives and talents in service to students for half a century. That the values and moral principles that they encouraged could be so thoroughly debased constitutes an
abiding tragedy.

By my own reckoning, and based on conversations with other alumni of conscience, at least five million dollars otherwise committed to the endowment has been withdrawn. All who created this calumny will surely reap what they have sown.


Stephen E. Haid, Ph.D.
Class of 1963

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Presidential Search Suspended

WHEELING, WV, Oct. 28, 2009 - The Wheeling Jesuit University Board of Directors has halted their search for a new president. The timing of the search and a dwindling candidate pool were key factors in the decision.

The first meeting of the search committee took place on Aug. 31.

"We were hoping to appoint a new president by the first of the year, but the process of hiring a college president takes time, and we want to be as thorough as possible in finding the right leader for the university," said William Fisher, board chair.

Leadership changed at Wheeling Jesuit on Aug. 5, 2009 with the departure of Julio Giulietti, S.J., who served as president of Wheeling Jesuit for two years. J. Davitt McAteer, a vice president at Wheeling Jesuit, is serving as the interim president. McAteer has chosen not to be a candidate for the permanent position of president.

A Presidential Search Committee was selected by the Board of Directors and began the work of finding a new leader for the Jesuit, Catholic university to continue its mission of "educating students for life, leadership and service." For the first time ever, the field was open to lay persons.

Initially 35 candidates applied. From this pool, seven advanced to personal interviews in Pittsburgh and from that a final two were selected. At this point, the search was suspended.

The search is suspended to review the best options for reopening the hiring process.

"We want to take our time and do this right, so we are willing to suspend the search for the good of the institution," Fisher said.

- as published at the WJU website

Monday, November 2, 2009

Preist Probe Resolution Disheartening - Letter to the Editor

October 28, 2009

It's very disheartening to see how Wheeling Catholic officials are responding to the revelation that a Jesuit university board member stands accused of sexual harassment.

Because one California church official in 1999 decided that an allegation against Fr. Thomas Gleeson was "unsubstantiated," West Virginia Catholic authorities are apparently fine with giving him a position of authority and responsibility over innocent teenagers and vulnerable young people.

Would it hurt Wheeling Jesuit University so much to even spend a few days delving into this accusation, instead of immediately assuming that a credible accuser is wrong and an accused cleric is right?

David Clohessy
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests National Director
St. Louis, Mo.

- as published in the Wheeling News-Register