Peninsula university weighs president's fate

BELMONT — After student, teacher and faculty groups publicly blasted the university president, Notre Dame de Namur’s Board of Trustees are investigating the accusations and hope to have a resolution by the end of the year.

The 15-member Special Trustee Committee — formed on Oct. 24 — is holding its final scheduled series of 15-minute interviews today with members of the NDNU community over their lack of confidence in President Jack Oblak. The group was formed to assist the full board in making a decision on the matter.

The first meetings were held Nov. 9 and Nov. 14. Signups for the meetings began Nov. 7.

According to a written statement from the committee, any members of the NDNU student body, faculty or staff — even administrators — were invited to the meetings and “the University’s policies of no-retaliation and no-discrimination fully apply to those who participate in this process.”

“This is really democracy in action,” said David Catherman, NDNU vice president for advancement. “I’ve been in higher education for over 30 years, and honestly I’ve never seen a process so transparent and encouraging of diversity of opinion.”

On Oct. 16, Notre Dame’s faculty senate voted to ask for Oblak’s resignation and the student senate passed a vote of no confidence in his leadership. Notre Dame has been the focus of Belmont tension stemming from the ongoing battle over the noise on Koret Field and faculty members have expressed concerns about the president’s priorities for the school. Days later, the university’s staff joined them in their concern, and Belmont’s City Council has also weighed in on the controversy.

Mayor Coralin Feierbach said that Oblak’s focus on athletics has drawn funding and attention away from the rest of the school and put students in the middle of the battle over the field.

“I think there’s a lot of discontent at the university between professors and students, and I think it’s gotten a deaf ear,” Feierbach said.

What that tension in mind, the special committee said in its statement that it “does not intend that these procedures alter the authority or responsibility of the president during the time that this committee is doing its work.”

Catherman said the group is hoping to finish its interviews and investigation by December.

“The trustees are not going into this process with foregone conclusions,” he said. “But any outcome, ultimately, will be determined by the Board of Trustees.”

Although today is the last day of appointments, information can also be sent to Trustee Marc Desautels at mpdesautels@yahoo.com or faxed to (650) 851-8878. Today is the deadline for that information as well.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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