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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.

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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

1 comment:

  1. Please close this site. It does little to "save" WJU

    Ed Shahady

    ReplyDelete