Tim Drake is an award-winning writer and former journalist and radio host with the National Catholic Register/EWTN. He currently serves as New Evangelization Coordinator for the Holdingford Area Catholic Community in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. He resides with his wife and five children in St. Joseph, Minn.
Two years after first being fired from Ave Maria University, Father Joseph Fessio was told yesterday that he’s being dismissed from the school.
Father Fessio, the university’s theologian in residence was notified of the action by Jack Sites, academic vice president of Ave Maria University.
According to an e-mail received from Ignatius Press’ president Mark Brumley, Father Fessio said that the reason for his dismissal stems from a conversation he had in November 2008 with the university’s chairman of the board, Jack Donahue.
“I felt it an obligation to speak to the board chairman before the upcoming board meeting, to make sure he was aware of the urgency of the university’s financial situation,” wrote Father Fessio. “After I had informed him, using projections based on publicly available documents and statements, he asked me what I thought was the solution. I told him that there were policies being followed that were at the root of the problem, that the present administration was irrevocably wedded to those policies, and that without a change of administration the university was at great risk.”
Father Fessio was first fired as university provost in 2007 and then rehired but demoted a day later after protests from students and an outcry from the Catholic community.
In a statement late Monday afternoon, the university confirmed it had “ended its formal relationship” with Father Fessio but did not cite a reason.
“The decision was made by the leadership of the university and supported by its board of trustees,” the statement said. “While Fr. Fessio will not be continuing in any capacity at the university, AMU wishes to express its gratitude to him for the assistance that he rendered to the university.”
Father Fessio added that the university felt that it could not have a faculty member making such criticisms and “thus undermining the university.”
“I continue to support the university,” said Father Fessio. “I pray for its success. I have great admiration for the faculty, students, and many of the staff. I do disagree with some of the policies of the administration. I will continue to think my dismissal is another mistake in a long series of unwise decisions.”