A Source of Both Pride & Shame

Today I am filled with two conflicting emotions. Both pride for my fellow alumni who have rallied behind our beloved professor, Dr. Avis Meyer, and shame for my alma mater that has relentlessly persecuted the tenured professor. As I mentioned in my post earlier today about the new Save Avis Blog, a years-long struggle between Meyer and Saint Louis University, most particularly Father Lawrence Biondi, S.J., continues with wasteful, emotionally and financially draining legal action.

Dr. Meyer is a true educator, dedicated primarily to his students, secondarily to his journalistic craft and thirdly to the integrity of Saint Louis University. After 30 years teaching journalism and news writing, editing, and even film criticism, all the while serving as faculty adviser to the University News, Meyer is at risk to lose his tenure while dually burdened with excessive legal fees and stress associated with his battle against Saint Louis University.

As a student in both Meyer’s News writing and Film Criticism courses, I learned how to write right. Used to receiving top marks in all of my courses, I worked harder than ever to earn two A minuses. Aside from the blow to my GPA (and ego) I learned to take my compositions to a higher level and to take my education much more seriously. Upon my graduation from SLU, in May of 2007, I was honored with a heartfelt speech from Avis and the presentation of an academic award from the department.

In 1987, Father Lawrence Biondi came to Saint Louis University with a vision to make SLU the premier Catholic institution in the United States. What did he see at SLU when he arrived, but the hard work of people like Avis Meyer? I believe that it is still Biondi’s aim to improve the university and the quality of education, faculty, facilities, athletics and even aesthetics available to its students. What I cannot believe is how this ugly fight against Meyer will do anything but detract from the bounty Biondi envisions.

It is a shame that the university has invested tens of thousands of dollars into this legal battle rather than pour funds into scholarships, facilities or resources toward SLU’s mission. It is a tragedy that the university continues to attack such a well-respected, genuine man such as Avis Meyer. It is an atrocity that the university denies any wrong-doing or misjudgment regarding any of their actions whatsoever pertaining to this situation.

Thankfully, SLU Alumni will not stand by silently as this ridiculousness ensues. Many are threatening to withhold further donations to the university because they feel that letters and petitions do not speak loud enough for an administration ruled by the iron-fist of its president in conjunction with the monetary canon of its donors. As a recent graduate still paying off debt incurred during my time at the university, I can only ask that others voice their opinions on the matter.

I’d like to commend fellow alumnae Michele L. Parrish and Diana Leigh Benanti for their outspoken and eloquent posts, as well as alumnus Andrew Emmerich for writing to influential members of the media and SLU community.

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