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Saint Vincent College Announces Policy, Structural Changes to Ensure Benedictine Principles Upheld

by | April 19, 2022

(LATROBE, PA)  Saint Vincent College’s (SVC) president and executive leadership team today announced immediate policy and structural changes following a lecture sponsored by the school’s Center for Political and Economic Thought (CPET). In the lecture, given by David Azerrad, divisive remarks were made that diminished the accomplishments of American Black leaders, among other strong opinions that contradicted the College’s high standard for human dignity, respect and inclusivity. Founded in 1846 as the nation's first Benedictine college, Saint Vincent College’s mission centers around the inherent belief that only when we lift up human dignity can we move the world forward.

“The hurtful, divisive statements were a stark contrast to our mission. I am deeply sorry that this happened and today we took immediate actions to rebuild trust, heal our community and at the same time protect the diversity of opinion critical to our students’ educational growth,” said Father Paul Taylor, Saint Vincent’s president.  “We also took immediate steps to ensure that our College is not to be used to promote a message contrary to our mission.” 

SVC has immediately instituted a formal speaker’s policy for all of their academic centers. The President and Cabinet members will now approve all sponsored speakers to make sure that the message to be delivered is one that abides with the spirit and mission of the College.  In addition, immediate structural changes will take place at the CPET, so that it reports directly to Dr. Jeff Mallory, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the College. Dr. Mallory will also undertake a review and assessment of CPET policies and procedures.

Lastly, SVC leaders will hold a public forum intended to engage and listen to the student community in a way that will invite transparent discourse related to the lecture and related  issues of equity and inclusion. The forum will include attendance by SVC leaders, including:  Father Paul;  Dr. Elaine Bennett, Dean of the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Corporal Aaron Allen of the Pennsylvania State Police and Adjunct Professor of Criminology; Dr. Jeff Mallory, Executive Vice President and COO; and, Ms. Keila Lobos-Hernandez, graduate student and Graduate Assistant for the Office of Multicultural Student Life.  In addition, Father Paul and the SVC leadership team will be holding virtual listening sessions to engage  faculty, alumni and donor communities over the course of the next several weeks.

“Saint Vincent continues to be an institution that supports free speech and civil discourse on a variety of issues. The actions taken by the administration showcase the college’s deep commitment to upholding the mission rooted in a basis of human dignity. I support Saint Vincent’s leadership for taking these steps to protect and encourage open academic thought while ensuring first that respectful discussion that honors all lives is at the forefront,” said Saint Vincent Alumna and Board Member Amanda Cecconi.

“With these immediate changes, Saint Vincent is building a sturdier framework to ensure academic freedoms are exercised in a manner which upholds the values of respect and human dignity,” said Saint Vincent Board Member John M. Lally. “There will always be a place for constructive debate at Saint Vincent, especially as the College moves forward in living its mission.”