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.