Letter to the Editor: Dismissal of Tenured Faculty


By Stephen K. Wright

I am writing to you as Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature.  It has been my distinct pleasure and pride to serve my students and colleagues at CUA from 1982 until my retirement in 2013.  Yet today, I am writing to you to express my profound dismay at the reprehensible treatment by the university administration of our colleague, Dr Stephen McKenna, who was dismissed from his tenured position in the Department of Media Studies.

Dr McKenna has openly acknowledged that he crossed a line and engaged in inappropriate behavior with an employee. I do not wish to dispute the facts of the case. What I do wish to assert are the two following disgraceful actions by the President and Provost.  First, in Catholic Just War Theory, there is a concept called the Principle of Proportionality. It states that for a punishment to be just, it must not exceed the wrongfulness of the initial provocation.  In Dr McKenna’s case, this principle has clearly been violated. Dismissal from a tenured position at the university is the ultimate sanction, to be reserved only for the most egregious misbehavior. Inasmuch as no grievance has ever been filed by the party in question, we have a prima facie case of the punishment far exceeding the gravity of the offense.  

Second, and equally outrageous, is the Administration’s blatant eagerness to inflict a public and possibly career-ending shaming by posting details of this matter on the Internet for the whole world to see.  One cannot escape the inference that the intention of the Administration was to retaliate for Dr McKenna’s previous assessments of various university policies and practices, to humiliate him personally, and to attempt to intimidate all of our faculty colleagues from speaking our minds honestly and openly on matters of grave concern. This form of governance is shocking and absolutely intolerable. I expect the Administration to remove any such notices pertaining to this matter from all of its social media sites immediately.

Sincerely yours,

Stephen K. Wright

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