SLU: Prof. Matthew Hall Criticizes Lawrence Biondi; Trustees Call Him Immature Liar

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for biondi 3.jpg
Father Lawrence Biondi.
Over the past month, we've reported on the latest controversies of Saint Louis University, first with the high-profile resignation of the theology chair and most recently with the departure of the interim law dean over inappropriate comments. At the center of much of the conflict at SLU is Father Lawrence Biondi, the president who has faced intense backlash from faculty, and the board of trustees, which so far hasn't done much publicly to address the overwhelming dissent.

University officials and the board have been notoriously silent, but when assistant professor Matthew Hall wrote to them to explain why he would be leaving SLU, they responded -- with personal insults and attacks.

"It's extremely difficult," Hall tells Daily RFT of his departure from SLU. "I wish I could stay here and keep teaching these students."

What went wrong?

See also:
- Resigned Chair Jay Hammond On Lawrence Biondi: "He Creates a Culture of Fear"
- SLU: More Faculty Protest As Theology Dept. Chair Jay Hammond Resigns
- Lawrence Biondi: "To Those Of You Who Have Been Critical...I Have Listened"
- Dean Tom Keefe Resigns Over Offensive Remarks: "If I Was Them, I'd Fire Me"

Hall, an assistant professor of political science and law, has a detailed explanation about why, despite his best efforts, he cannot stay at SLU and has accepted a job offer at the University of Notre Dame. More on that below.

But what's most noteworthy about his conflict with the administration is his interaction with members of the board of trustees, whom he wrote to in an effort to explain his concerns with the administration and Biondi.

In a December e-mail with the subject "Why I am Leaving Saint Louis University," he explains his frustration with the administration's treatment of faculty and urges the trustees to take action against Biondi (who faced an overwhelming no-confidence vote from faculty last year).

matthew hall slu.jpg
via slu.edu
Professor Matthew Hall

Three replies in particular surprised Hall, who sent us the entire e-mail exchange.

One trustee writes:

I find almost nothing about your correspondence to ring true. As a Trustee I have deep connections to the university and my second daughter just graduated from SLU this last Friday.

The fact that you don't say "To be honest" until the beginning of your 6th paragraph is very telling. Does that admit your not otherwise?

I hope you find life easier in your new path.

Another says:

Good luck in your future academic endeavors and I hope that you reach a higher level of maturity in your next assignment.

Have a great Holiday Season!

And a third goes after Hall for seeking a better salary from SLU:

Gee Matt---I went back and reviewed your emails to me this past week---in two of them you made it clear it was about the money--"my main concern is salary" and in another you said if we had "matched your offer" you would have stayed. You also wrote, when seeking more money, that "you really liked it here", and when that effort failed you still said you were "very sorry to be leaving." I also recall our meetings (they were always about money) and in none of them did you ever say a word about what a terrible place this University was.... your most recent note refects a struggle between blowing your own horn and tearing down this university and attacking Father Biondi---Good luck Matt; I hope you make a lot of money.

Continue for our interview with Matthew Hall and for the full letter and responses.


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11 comments
angeloolegna
angeloolegna

I hope everyone realizes that James Madison is almost certainly one of those trustees or at least a member of Biondi's administration. How else would he know the full contents of the letter? Who else would be so extremely motivated to post multiple times on an article about infighting in a university administration? Probably not someone who isn't involved in the situation. 

I think Hall has proven his point. When these people are trolling an article about him and continuing to attack him, and anonymously no less. At least have the maturity to insult and attack with your own name, if indeed you stand by your rhetoric.

charlesbott79
charlesbott79

Wow, people actually with grey matter  defending the Board of Trustees and Biondi? What rocks did you crawl out from under? And by the way, it's March 25, 2013. From the sounds of it you may have been under those rocks for a long time. To be uninformed but yet arrogant. What a nice combination.




James Madison
James Madison

I wonder if the good professor can critically evaluate his own writings and grade them as he might a student paper. I seriously doubt it, but it would be a fine experiment. This young assistant professor might also demonstrate command of the laws about publishing a private email writing of another. Another case of misleading storylines - the trustee did not call him a liar, the trustee was asking him if he was calling himself a liar.

James Madison
James Madison

Everyone should read this professor's letter to the trustees. It is a case of poor writing skills from someone seeking higher wages to instruct students.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

This was the point he was making about your insertion "To be honest" late in the letter. "To be honest" is meaningless words. Filler. Something every freshman student in composition learns to avoid in their writing. If we assume you drafted your letter with the care and respect a professor ought to show a trustee he is trying to persuade, Each word and phrase as special meaning. "To be honest" leaves the reader with the impression that truth is not something you always present - that or you are a poor writer instructing students yet thinking you should command higher wages. Neither seems to fit.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

Any professor who is in the Law Department ought to know you do not share private emails. While the trustees in question have an actionable suit, I hope they simply let this professor leave without filing a lawsuit against him. His immaturity is a fault of his youth, and in time, he will learn.


The pulled remarks from the those emails are not disrespectful. They cut to the chase. Someone CEOs are apt to do. If we can believe this one-sided story, the good professor would have stayed had he been given more money, yet he states he would not stay as the atmosphere was toxic from the day he arrived (one wonders why he stayed this long).

If the professor was as good as he seems to think himself, he never would have attempted to give his resume as an introduction in the letter to the trustees. Again, his immaturity leads him to think he needs that to wage an argument. Fodder. You get to the main point in the first lines. Then you provide background.

Professor, good luck at Notre Dame. South Bend is not far from Southern Illinois and your family and friends. Perhaps now you have the maturity to realize friends and family are not your friends and family because you live close, but because you are close. It may take you a few years to understand that sentence. Write it down and pull it out after living as a Hoosier for a few years.

rekabr52
rekabr52

Adiooos as Jack Buck used to say at Cardinals games on KMOX.  Guess Father Biondi didn't genuflect in your direction often enough.

Graduate

SLU'92

rekabr52
rekabr52

Adioooos, as Jack Buck used to say at Cardinals games on KMOX.  I guess Father Biondi didn't genuflect in your direction often enough.

Graduate, SLU'92

angeloolegna
angeloolegna

@charlesbott79  

James Madison is not a random observer. He's clearly part of this. Either a trustee or a supporter of Biondi from within the administration. 

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@charlesbott79 , defending the Trustees and Bondi? Nope. Calling out a professor with poor writing skills. Calling out a professor in the law department that apparently does not understand the law. Calling out a professor who was way too sensitive to blunt talk.

charlesbott79
charlesbott79

@JamesMadison @charlesbott79 This is quite Madison of you James. Forever keeping your eye on the larger state, which is to be cherished and perpetuated and attacking any open enemy to it to be regarded as a Pandora with her box opened.

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