My Alma Mater is Being Sued

I’m saddened by the news that the former president of Saint Mary’s College, Janice Cervelli, is suing the college over what she claims is her forced resignation last fall. Ms. Cervelli had just been installed as president in 2016, after a lengthy national search, and by all accounts she was doing a good job. I had the pleasure of meeting her during our Reunion last June, and my fellow alumnae and I were all impressed. So we were surprised to hear about her sudden departure in the fall. The departure was not explained at the time, and now we learn, from news reports of the complaint filed with the lawsuit, that Ms. Cervelli felt that the chair of the board, Mary L. Burke, forced her out.

Publicity like this is not good for a small, private college that relies on its good reputation to attract aspiring students and superior faculty. The expense of defending this lawsuit makes me cringe to think about making further donations to my alma mater. And the board will be distracted by defending this lawsuit instead of improving the College.

More importantly, Saint Mary’s is a Christian college, and Christians are supposed to resolve their disputes within the church, not in civil courts (I Corinthians 6:1-7). Many Christian employers include a clause in employee contracts requiring any disputes to be resolved through Christian mediation or arbitration, rather than in court. Apparently President Cervelli’s contract didn’t have a clause like this, or at least no one has mentioned it so far.

Both parties could still decide that a private mediation or arbitration, especially one that holds them to biblical principles, would be better for all concerned than dragging this through the public courts. I am praying that they find a way to resolve this matter quickly, fully, and privately.

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