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, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! (another open letter to Fr. Currie)

Click on images for a larger view.


  1. Thank you for publishing this letter. Before internet blogs such as this, people who were upset about events like Fr. Giulietti's dismissal had no way of knowing how many others were out there that shared their concerns. The powers-that-be have always counted on such disconnectedness and secrecy to avoid being accountable.

  2. Mary Naughton's summarization of Davitt McAteer as "a completely unprincipled man who should hold no office in a Jesuit institution, much less President" is spot-on accurate!

    Pretender-president Davitt McAteer has never answered any of our letters asking for an explanation of the surreptitious firing and subsequent character assassination of President Julio Giulietti.

    Davitt McAteer was the VP directly responsible for the $4,000,000 inappropriately charged to NASA as salaries for administrators which generated the NASA audit report highly critical of Wheeling Jesuit. That is a very telling datum. McAteer was (and possibly still is) VP for Sponsored Programs, Governmental Relations and Legal Advisor. That means he was responsible for the Center for Educational Technologies and also the National Technology Transfer Center (in the two Byrd buildings). Immediately preceding the board action against Julio Giulietti, NASA issued an audit report critical of WJU. Coincidental? That $4,000,000 error had to have been OK'd by the man in charge, (guess who?) Davitt McAteer. The $4,000,000 inappropriately charged to NASA was attributed to salaries for administrators. That means, (guess who?) Davitt McAteer. NASA issues the audit report critical of WJU and immediately McAteer replaces Giulietti! Maybe it is merely a $4,000,000 clerical error, and maybe the timing of the audit report and the presidential coup was merely coincidental. But then why are we being stonewalled? Father Provincial James Shea has refused to require a full public disclosure of Davitt McAteer's oversight of the NASA debacle.

    Michael J. Fahy, B.A., J.D.
    WJU Alumnus in Exile

  3. Several months have now passed since the firing of President Giulietti, and the following scandals have still not been addressed in a meaningful way by Wheeling Jesuit University or the Jesuit order:

    1. The then-chairman of the WJU board of directors, William Fisher, forced a vote to remove President Giulietti before Giulietti's performance review was completed and without full and honest discussion among all members of the board of directors. Who was responsible for this action and why?

    2. A bare three-member majority of the five-member board of Trustees held a secret vote to fire President Giulietti in apparent violation of the WJU bylaws and behind the backs of the two other Trustees. Who was responsible for this action and why?

    3. The Bishop of Wheeling publicly announced the appointment of J. Davitt McAteer as acting President the day after Giulietti's firing. Who designated the Bishop of Wheeling as a spokesman for the University, and why was such an announcement not made by a University official or Jesuit official?

    4. The appointment of J. Davitt McAteer, who lacks academic credentials or qualifications to lead a university, was appointed interim president without the knowledge of some directors and at least two of the five trustees (Fr. Glynn and Fr. Giulietti). Who caused the appointment to be made in this way, and why?

    5. A few days before Fr. Giulietti's firing and J. Davitt McAteer's appointment as acting President, federal auditors issued a report disclosing that federally-financed programs at WJU, reportedly managed by J. Davitt McAteer, had mischarged substantial amounts of money to the federal government. What corrective action and/or disciplinary action was taken by the University? Why was J. Davitt McAteer rewarded with a promotion to intermim president? And why has there been no explanation of this situation to students, alumni, or the general public?

    6. During the public uproar following President Giulietti's firing, it was disclosed that one of WJU's Jesuit trustees who voted to fire Fr. Giulietti had been named several years earlier as a defendant in a federal sexual harrassment lawsuit filed by a male student at another Jesuit educational institution. The student received an out-of-court settlement to drop the case and the trustee in question has never (apparently) denied the facts alleged by the student. When confronted with these facts, Interim President J. Davitt McAteer did not deny or comment on the alleged sexual abuse, but merely announced that he (McAteer) and the University are proud to have this individual on the University board of trustees -- thereby tacitly condoning the trustee's alleged sexual misconduct. Since when do presidents of Catholic colleges publicly condone the sexual harrasment of students by faculty members? Why have both the Jesuit order and the Bishop of Wheeling remained completely silent about this issue in apparent contravention of Church teaching and policy?

    At this point, it would seem that mere public embarrassment or criticism will not be sufficient to bring the remediation of these scandals. A credible threat of montary damage might be more effective. A better result might be obtained if all concerned alumni and donors tell the University in writing that all gifts will be suspended until either (1) Mr. McAteer, the boards, and the Bishop of Wheeling address these scandals in a public, humble and truthful way, or (2)the responsible individuals have terminated their positions with the University.

  4. I am a former administrator at the NASA Classroom of the Future and someone who was personally "let go" by Mr. McAteer over swirling innuendos. As much as I disagree with Davitt's strategic handling of the sponsored programs at WJU, it is unfortunate that this blog community is focusing on innuendo's around the NASA audit as a means to build momentum to have him removed. If you actually read the audit report, you will find this blog discussion is making a mountain out of a mole hill. As a bit of background, the cost center structure was established back in the late 90's under Fr. Acker. It was presented to and approved by every federal agency doing business with WJU at the time. Since then, NSf, Dept of Education, NASA, corporate foundations, nonprofit foundations, and others have all approved that cost center structure. The NASA audit is not saying that the expenses were inappropriate. It is a matter of accounting interpretation as to whether the costs should have been handled as indirect costs instead of direct costs. If there was a finding of fault against WJU, they would have been forced to repay inappropriate funds. Instead, the finding is that the indirect cost rate should be adjusted to reflect the reality of expenses.

    As for budgeting more than 100% of someone's time, that is typical of any organization that lives on grants. You have to write grants for more money than you need since not all of them will be awarded. Once awarded, the spending is adjusted. The Inspector General is simply stating that someone at NASA should have caught that prior to awarding the grant rather than afterward.

    The underlying issue facing WJU is that the academic community has never come to terms with the sponsored programs on campus. The reason for the accounting problem is that there is a huge firewall between the sponsored programs and the academic programs, both accounting and intellectual. Is WJU a liberal arts college or is it a research university? The difficulty in finding the right president is finding someone who can bring together WJU's schizophrenic personality between the sponsored programs and the academic programs, particularly in light of the mistrust and poisoned atmosphere. If the members of this blog want to save the university, I would encourage you to focus on building a vision of what the university should be and guide the search for a president that can bring those qualities to the university.

  5. Response to the previous post:

    I'm sympathetic to the author's comments about the 'schizophrenia' caused by bringing federal pork-barrel projects onto a small Catholic liberal arts campus, and the desirability of finding a president who can handle the resulting discord.

    With all due respect, though, I don't agree with the comments about the Inspector General's report. I have read it. The report expressly states that WJU improperly added F&A costs (i.e., indirect or overhead costs) into its direct cost proposal and tried to overcharge for more than 100% of certain employees' actual labor costs. These represent pretty basic violations of applicable government cost accounting standards. They are also common ways in which taxpayers get swindled. (e.g., allowable "direct" costs are are generally reimbursed 100% by the government whereas "indirect" or F&A costs are only partially reimbursed).

    The issue isn't whether expenses were proper or improper. The issue is whether they were properly accounted for under the applicable accounting standards. The standards are pretty clear and there is not much leeway for "interpretation." If the mischarging were determined to be intentional, it could be actionable under the False Claims Act and could carry severe civil or criminal penalties. No one at WJU is being accused of intentional wrongdoing, but in my experience it is not "typical of any organization that lives on grants" to put excessive or unallowable costs in their cost proposals on the assumption that things will get sorted out later if auditors happen to spot them. That reflects a lackadaisical attitude that has gotten a lot of government contractors in serious trouble. This episode has damaged the university's reputation, if not its bottom line.

    Finally, I think it will be clear if one reads all the posts at this site, that the NASA audit is only a small part of the story that has alumni and friends of WJU upset. It is one piece in a larger, disturbing picture of mismanagement and questionable ethics, which have little to do with liberal arts versus pork-barrel schizophrenia.

  6. Regarding the preceding post: Distinguishing between direct costs and indirect facility & admin costs (i.e., overhead) is a basic, fundamental rule of federal cost-accounting regulations. It is not routine for universities to stuff overcharges in their cost proposals on the assumption that government auditors will find them and make adjustments later. At best, the errors suggest inattention or incompetence, and WJU's reputation has been damaged even if no intentional fraud was intended. Finally, the NASA audit issue is only one of multiple concerns about ethical lapses by WJU leadership. Of course WJU needs to recruit a good new president, but that will probably not happen unless and until WJU recognizes and corrects the reasons why viable candidates are uninterested in the job.

  7. The above 1/8/10 Comment by Anonymous (Using your name would add credibility.) says that we alumni and WJU community members should "focus on building a vision of what the university should be and guide the search for a president." Note to Anonymous: We have such "a vision," and we have been shut out of the (nonexistent) "search for a president." Neither Pretender-President Davitt McAteer nor Father Provincial James Shea has answered any of our letters. Their "vision" is evidenced by what they have done: (a) They have amassed a nearly insurmountable debt; (b) their actions certainly discourage alumni contributions; (c) they are in trouble with NASA; and (d) they fired the man who increased enrollment and enhanced WJU's stature in the community as well as worldwide. They have totally rejected the vision of Fr. Clifford Lewis!

    Our conflict with the current regime is simply put: they insist upon secrecy; we insist upon openness. Secrecy versus openness in WJU's multiple scandals of NASA-honeypot-gate, presidential-coup-gate, and homosexual-predator-gate. Each of these -gates involves the ongoing concealment of wrongdoing. Openness is owed to the 10,000 who name WJU in their resumes and wills.

    On 1/5/10 a whistle-blower lawsuit was served upon WJU and Davitt McAteer. To whom will you turn for the truth revealed by that NASA related lawsuit: McAteer/Shea or this blog?

    Michael J. Fahy, B.A., J.D.
    WJU Alumnus in Exile

  8. Although I did not intend my letter to Fr. Currie to be an "open letter" or a "blog" - I did not post it and I don't know who did - I certainly stand by it. However, I do want to say now that I am very relieved and happy that Mr. Mc Ateer is gone and Sister Marie is Acting President. She has a sterling reputation and I am very hopeful that she may be able to right the ship at WJU. I think the removal of Mr. Mc Ateer is a good first step toward restoring confidence but I do still think that those Board members, whether Directors or Trustees, who participated in the coup last August must also step aside. I also agree with the comment that the Jesuits need to publicly clear Fr. Guilietti's good name and apologize to him. The fact that he is now assigned to a prestigious post at Loyola of Chicago is wonderful but perhaps not widely known at Wheeling. Finally, let me say again that I love WJU and my only concern is that it should grow and prosper as the only Jesuit University in West Virginia.

  9. This is funny to read 2 years later now that Davitt McAteer just "retired" after "allgedly" "embezzling" "funds."