On Tuesday, August 26th—the day before freshman orientation—University Librarian Pat Tully was suddenly and unceremoniously fired. Tully has been at the school since 2004; she began as interm university librarian in 2009, before being promoted to Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian on March 1, 2010.
In an email to the faculty listserv last Tuesday, September 2nd, Tully explains the administrative disagreement behind her firing. As she did not sign any severance contract requiring her silence, we are luckily able to understand her side of the story. This is not a privilege afforded to us or many other teachers and administrators who are let go or fired—especially those who are, by all means, a respected and much-loved part of the school community.
Wesleying has acquired a copy of the letter, which was posted in full online, and has placed it below. We have also confirmed the authenticity of this letter as it was sent to the faculty. The University declined to comment on matters of personnel. Wesleying also reached out to Tully for further comment on the situation, as well as looked into University policy behind employment termination.
We will continue looking into this matter, as well as other recent firings, in the coming days.
After Wesleying learned of the reasons behind Pat Tully’s firing on August 26, and subsequently posted her letter of explanation, I reached out to a number of administrators to ask for more information about the situation.
In light of the subsequent termination of another University mainstay, Ed Chiburis, Facility and Events Manager for the Memorial Chapel and ’92 Theater, I had some questions how—and why—employees are fired. According to Vice President of Student Affairs Mike Whaley, “Generally speaking, all students should know that (except in egregious situations) a progressive coaching/discipline system is in place to address any performance issues with any employee. Only after that system has been exhausted would an employee be terminated.” He recommended me to talk with Human Resources about that system.
Director of Human Resources Julia Hicks, after receiving my questions about university policies, referred me instead to the staff handbook, as she could not comment about matters relating to individuals.
Assembled by the Human Resources department, the handbook does explain policies and procedures for administration, faculty, and employees. But it did not nearly answer my questions about how “termination,” as it calls it, is considered, pursued, and justified in a liberal arts university setting. Obviously the points gone over in this handbook aren’t going to be revelatory to any University staff, or really anyone out of college who’s held a real job. Students, however, probably don’t know such things—the handbook is pretty much all we have to understand the University’s side.
So let’s go through it and see what we can dig out and make sense of.