May 8, 2013

Page 1





SAMANTHA ALBANESE Entertainment Editor When Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M. became the President of St. John’s University in 1989, the Queens campus was almost an entirely different place. Over the last 24 years there have been changes to the University, both aesthetically and academically. During the last decade alone, St. John’s made many advancements – expanding the campus in terms of buildings and facilities and increasing enrollment and improving the curriculum. The campus expanded internationally as well, inviting students from around the world to Queens and

encouraging students from the University to study abroad. In 1999, St. John’s acquired the Oakdale campus on Long Island, furthering its expansion in New York. Two years later, in 2001, the University extended further when it purchased the Manhattan campus. Although the Staten Island campus was purchased by the University in the 1960s, the campus underwent many expansions and renovations during Harrington’s presidency, including the addition of the Kelleher Center and the DaSilva Academic Center as well as the renovation of Rosati Hall. Athletics also went through mass transformations during Harrington’s presidency. In 2001, Jack Kaiser Stadium was erected on the Queens campus. The facility holds almost 4,000


spectators. In 2002, the men’s soccer team hosted its first game at Belson Stadium. In 2004, the stadium was completed. In 2005, the construction of Taffner Field House was completed; providing students with four full size basketball courts, while locker rooms and training rooms were built for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. In September 2004, St. Thomas More Church opened its doors on the Queens campus. In 2010, the D’Angelo Center was completed on the Queens Campus and it became the new University Center. During Harrington’s presidency, St. John’s has also seen an array of new community service programs implemented. In 2007, the Ozanam Scholars Program was launched. It is described as rooted in the themes of scholarly research, Vincentian service and global citizenship. While changes were occurring to the New York campuses, things were also changing abroad. The University went international in 1995 with the purchase of the Rome campus, but it did not become a study abroad option until several years later. Between 2007 and 2008, the University officially made its mark internationally with the opening of the Paris and Rome campuses for undergraduates. While St. John’s students now have the option to immerse themselves in foreign cultures


all over the world, the University is now home to students from a large number of geographic regions. Students come from 46 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and 110 countries. St. John’s now receives over 50,000 applicants annually, according to the University website, and houses over 4,000 students on the Queens campus. Since 1989, St. John’s has increased enrollment to over 20,000 students. In 1999, the Residence Village was constructed, transitioning the campus from dominantly commuter to partially resident students.

It contains six Residence Halls where both suite style and traditional style living arrangements are offered. Fundraising has allowed for the growth of the St. John’s community. The University is also able to provide students with over $90 million in financial aide annually, according to the website. While the end of Harrington’s presidency was tumultuous, there is no denying the improvements and enhancements he made to St. John’s during his tenure. Additional reporting by Shannon Luibrand, Features Editor

Faculty still in search of transparency


Rev. Donald J. Harrington’s decision to retire as President of the University has not diminished the University faculty’s pursuit for transparency concerning the Board of Trustees’ ongoing investigation involving the roles of Harrington and senior vice president and chief of staff to the President, Robert Wile, in the Cecilia Chang embezzlement scandal. Several of the 66 faculty members who attached their names to a letter directed to the Board of Trustees last month requesting openness regarding its independent review of the alleged financial improprieties told the Torch they still stand by that message. “I think transparency in this matter is of the utmost importance,” said Dr. Dolores Augustine, one of the five professors who created the

letter. “The University should do everything it can to promote the trust of students, faculty and alumni.” The letter was delivered to Harrington’s office on April 11. The professors who spoke with the Torch in the wake of Harrington’s decision to retire signaled that their foremost concern hasn’t changed – they want clarity from the Board of Trustees’ investigation regarding all the events that led to the embezzlement trial of Cecilia Chang. “I think we can respect Fr. Harrington’s desire to retire quietly at this point,” Dr. Jeffrey Kinkley, a professor of history, said. “The faculty is expecting to have some answers from the Board of Trustees about the whole situation that has developed.” Dr. Gregory Maertz, a professor of English, said he is troubled by the prospect of Harrington’s retirement potentially allowing the Board

of Trustees to terminate the investigation before it is completed. (A University spokesman declined to say what will become of the Board of Trustees’ investigation.) “The only way we can prove any claims about the behavior of the Reverend Harrington or Rob Wile is if the whole report is released,” Maertz said. “There is concern that the University administration will take advantage of the Harrington/ Wile resignations to sweep the whole matter under the rug.” Dr. Robert Tillman, a professor of sociology, acknowledged that he is concerned with the possibility of the investigation being masked by Harrington’s decision to retire, but he made clear that one of the issues that he wanted the University to recognize is the culture that has defined St. John’s over the years. “It appears to me that the problems go far beyond Fr. Harrington and reflect a much

larger culture of corruption that has existed at St. John’s for some time,” he said. “I would hope that a thorough discussion of this culture and its origins would come out of the investigation. But I suspect that is asking too much.” Maertz also shed light on what he believes has defined the University’s culture. “It appears that under the

leadership of the Reverend Harrington, there emerged a culture of theft at the highest level under the University administration,” he said. The faculty members that spoke with the Torch also said that they have had little dialogue with the Board of Trustees since they submitted their letter seeking transparency.

Managing Board XCI

Kieran Lynch, Editor-in-Chief Mitchell Petit-Frere, Managing Editor Jessica Lise, General Manager

Christopher Brito

Jon Perez

Shannon Luibrand

Diamond watts-walker

News Editor

Features Editor

Samantha Albanese Entertainment Editor

Kyle Fitzgerald Online Editor

Sports Editor Art Director

Marion Gendron Chief Copy Editor

Jim Baumbach Advisor

Special thanks to: Michael E. Cunniff Nicole Valente Anthony O’Reilly



KIERAN LYNCH Editor-in-Chief Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of the University, announced in an email to the University community Friday that he will step down effective July 31, ending his 24-year tenure. “I write to inform you that I have today advised the University’s Board of Trustees of my intention to retire as President of St. John’s, effective July 31, 2013,” he said in the statement. Robert Wile, senior vice president and chief of staff to the President, has resigned effective June 30, according to a University spokesman. Moments after Harrington’s statement was released, Peter D’Angelo, Chair of the Board of Trustees released a statement through email stating that the Board had been notified of Harrington’s decision. The news comes after the Board of Trustees announced on March 8 that it had commissioned an independent investigation led by attorney Frank Wohl to look into media reports, which focused on Harrington, Wile and former dean Cecilia Chang. That investigation came toward the end of a school year that saw Chang’s federal trial for embezzlement come to a close after she committed suicide in her home in Jamaica Estates in the early morning hours of Nov. 6, 2012. Harrington testified at the trial on Oct. 17, 2012 that he “wasn’t real comfortable” with the perks from Chang and only accepted them on Chang’s recommendation, according to a transcript of his testimony obtained by the Torch. He also said that Chang told him that accepting expensive gifts on trips to Asia was a cultural necessity. “She explained to me that that was very critical, that this was a great sign of respect,” he said in the testimony. “If you did not do that, if you didn’t accept gifts in return, that was a sign of lack of respect.” His testimony caused a stir, with the New York Daily News mocking the “vow of poverty” that Vincentian priests take. He met with the Torch in November in an attempt to clear his name and explain his relationship with Chang, but the worst for him was yet to come. On Feb. 24 of this year, New York Magazine published

a report outlining a deeper relationship between Chang and Harrington and Wile than had been previously implied. The report detailed the lavish gifts, perks and vacations Chang had provided Harrington and Wile, including a trip to Turks and Caicos for Harrington after his father’s death. He brought Wile and Wile’s girlfriend, a sophomore undergraduate at St. John’s at the time. Chang also provided Wile with a Taishin credit card that Wile used at nightclubs, pro shops and restaurants – expenses that were all approved by Harrington. Chang allegedly covered expenses for the two, saying that they were paid for by donors. The expenses were, in fact, being billed to the University. New York Magazine also reported in March that Wile had received interest-free loans from the University as well as loans from a Board of Trustees member and a contractor who worked for St. John’s. NY Mag also reported that Harrington and Wile had a business relationship that wasn’t reported to the Board. Harrington recommended that Wile receive a bonus in the form of a $100,000 interest-free loan from the University in 2006 – the same year the two purchased

The difficulties for everyone during the past year have convinced me... that the time to leave the presidency has now come. -Harrington

a property through their partnership. The board’s audit and compensation committee approved the loan. The retirement statement also follows the April delivery of a faculty petition to Harrington’s office asking for more transparency in the investigation process. The letter,


From regional to national A look at the changes at St. John’s over the past 24 years. Faculty still in search of transprarency Petitioners continue hunt for answers regarding recent investigation.

PGS. 4-5


written by five professors in the history department, included the signature of 66 faculty members from the Queens campus. Neither the statement released by Harrington nor the statement released by D’Angelo directly addressed the controversies. The closest reference to the issues from this school year came from Harrington. “The difficulties for everyone during the past year have convinced me, after much prayer and reflection that the time to leave the presidency has now come,” he said in the statement. Harrington, 68, was born in Brooklyn and became a Vincentian priest in 1973. He went on to become the President of Niagara University in 1984, where he stayed until moving to St. John’s in 1989. During Harrington’s 24year tenure as President, St. John’s University underwent changes in both academics and development. The Queens campus was transformed from a commuter campus to one with a resident village and more students from around the country. Enrollment went up ostensibly due to the increase in international and students from outside the tri-state area. The University also expanded

its footprint with campuses in Manhattan, Oakdale, Rome and Paris. A University spokesman declined to address whether Harrington would hand out diplomas at this month’s commencement ceremonies, but he was present Monday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the University Career Services Center in Chiang Ching Kuo Hall. The spokesman also declined to comment on the current status of the Board of Trustees’ investigation. Rev. James J. Maher, C.M. had been tabbed by many as Harrington’s successor, but is leaving the University to become the President of Niagara University on August 1. The last two St. John’s presidents, Rev. Joseph T. Cahill, C.M. and Harrington, previously served at Niagara, but its current president, Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., announced his retirement in January. Friday’s statement from D’Angelo and the Board of Trustees said that an announcement would be made in the near future regarding a transition to new leadership. When contacted for information regarding the transition, a University spokeswoman referred to the statement.

Timeline A display of events at St. John’s during Harrington’s 24year tenure.

PG. 6

New President What the University community is looking for in a new president. Covers A look at the Torch’s coverage this year. Letter to the Editor Student Government, Inc.

PG. 7

Flames of the Torch Staff Editorial Successor must restore faith Column Goodbye to an unknown man Column



1999 The University purchases the former La Salle Military Academy and turns it into the 175-acre Oakdale campus.

May 1990

The University expels three students from the lacrosse team after allegedly assaulting a female student at an off-campus house. They were all acquitted.


June 2001 Manhattan campus opens after merging with the College of Insurance (TCI) and turns it into the School of Risk Management.



1996 The St. John’s men’s soccer team wins NCAA Championship.

Aug. 1999 The University completes construction on the first residence hall. 1995 The University opens a campus in Rome, Italy.



Feb. 1989 Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M. is named 15th President of St. John’s University after previously serving as the President of Niagara University.

March 1999 The St. John’s men’s basketball team advances to the Elite 8 in the NCAA tournament.



Feb 2004 The University punishes six St. John’s basketball players for their involvement with a prostitute after a game against Pittsburgh.

HARRINGTON OUT Sept. 2009 The 127,000 square ft., $77 million D’Angelo Center opens to students.

Dec. 2004


Sept. 2007 Police arrest a student for carrying a rifle on the Queens campus.

May 3, 2013 Harrington announces his retirement in an email to the University community, just months after the Board of Trustees commissioned an outside investigation into incriminating media reports.


St. John’s self-imposes penalties after former men’s basketball player Abe Keita states that he was given a $300-per-month allowance by an athletic staff member during his time at the University.


Oct. 2012 Harrington testifies in the federal trial of Cecilia Chang, telling stories of the gifts he received from the former dean.

Feb./March 2013 2009 The University opens a campus in Paris, France.

New York Magazine reports give details about how Harrington and his chief of staff, Robert Wile, benefitted from the fraudulent brehavior of disgraced former dean Cecilia Chang as well as other alleged proprieties.

Sept. 2005 The University opens Taffner Field house, a $16 million, 43,000 square ft. gymnasium/ recreation center.

2011 St. John’s receives a first-tier university ranking by U.S. News & World Report. TORCH PHOTO/KYLE FITZGERALD




St. John’s looks forward

MEMBERS OF UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY NAME THEIR QUALITIES FOR NEW PRESIDENT SHANNON LUIBRAND Features Editor When Donald J. Harrington, C.M announced last Friday that he is retiring as President of the University, people immediately began speculating about who would replace him. Although the who and the when are still up in the air, students and faculty do know what qualities they would like to see in his successor. “The qualities I would like to see with the new president of St. John’s University are honesty, attentiveness to the needs of the student body,” Irma Khawaja, a sophomore, said. “Commitment towards the St. John’s goals and acceptance of every belief and culture. I feel as though having these qualities set a good foundation for any leader.” Many faculty members and students acknowledged the accomplishments of Harrington such as educational improvements and expanding the University. They expressed that they would like to see these qualities translate into the next presidency, but with other significant improvements.

Letter to Editor Student Government, Inc. would like to thank Fr. Harrington for his continuous support throughout his tenure at St. John’s. As University President, Fr. Harrington has been an integral asset to faculty, staff, administration, and especially students. Fr. Harrington and Student Government worked together to establish an annual Town Hall, which has provided a direct outlet for students to voice their concerns to administration. In addition, Fr. Harrington has continuously met with each Executive Board of Student Government, in an effort to remain as connected as possible with student initiatives and to offer his assistance in addressing the student feedback that Student Government presents. Throughout his time as University President, Fr. Harrington’s genuine interest in student concerns has been readily apparent. It is our hope that the new University President will continue the precedence that Fr. Harrington has set in actively working with Student Government to address the concerns of the STJ community and remain a valuable resource to our University. -Student Government, Inc.

“I think that it is imperative that the successor to the Reverend Harrington be an academic leader,” Dr. Gregory Maertz, a professor of English, said. “Who is committed to the process of higher education.” Harrington, who took over the presidency in 1989 as St. John’s 15th president, was previously president of Niagara University. Rev. Joseph T. Cahill, Harrington’s predecessor, was President of Niagara University as well, before serving as president of St. John’s, like Harrington, for nearly 25 years, according to Cahill’s obituary from the New York Times. The streak of presidents coming from the same position at Niagara University will likely be broken this time around. Rev. James J. Maher, C.M. will become Niagara University’s 26th president beginning August 1. Maher served St. John’s for over 20 years and most recently as executive vice president for mission and student services, according to the St. John’s University website. When asked for information regarding the selection process for a new president, a University spokeswoman referred to the letter sent from Board of

Trustees chair Peter D’Angelo following Harrington’s retirement announcement that said that an announcement would be made in the coming weeks regarding a transition to new leadership. Khawaja, who is the President of the Muslim Students Association, said she hopes the next president is attentive to the concerns of students while noting the recent University decision to have Peter King speak at commencement. “What I hope this new president will do is keep St. John’s values in mind when making decisions, “ she said. “As well as keeping the requests of students in mind when there is a problem presented by the general student body.” Qualities that faculty members articulated were similar to those of students, some qualities generalized and others more specific. “Willingness to work together with faculty,” Dr. Dolores Augustine, a professor of history, said. “That would be a wonderful thing.” The majority of faculty members communicated they would like to see a president dedicated to academics.

Dr. Jeffrey Kinkley, a professor of history, being one of them. He said he would like to see a president who has strong academic leadership. “So I think we need somebody who will bring us a blast of fresh air from the outside,” he said. “And a whole lot of sunlight to warm things up a little bit.” Maertz reiterated his hope is for a president who is committed to higher education. “And, who does not simply see himself as some kind of CEO,” he said. Additional Reporting by Mitchell Petit-Frere, Managing Editor

Follow breaking news regarding the transition to new leadership on Twitter at @STJTorch and our website:


Rodney Romero Sophomore

“It infuriates me…for them to go behind our backs to use our money for their luxury is really unfair.”

Additionally, all articles appearing in this special issue and all regarding to Harrington’s departure in the future can be found under the ‘Harrington Steps Down’ tab on the website.

Deirdre Woods Senior

“I was shocked, I didn’t think he would retire. It’ll be interesting to see who is in his place.”

Josh Godec Sophomore

“If he’s at fault I think it’s really good that he retires.”

Amy Rio Senior

“I say good riddance, and I don’t think it’s so much retirement as it is leaving without facing more anger from students.”


FLAMES OF THE TORCH It’s the end of an era at St. John’s. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of the University, accomplished a great deal for St. John’s, but past successes, no matter how significant, cannot erase discretions that can tarnish the reputation of the University. We at the Torch want to look toward the future of the University. Of course we want answers concerning the investigation of Harrington and his soon-to-be former chief of staff, Robert Wile, but at this point, we have to keep faith that the truth will eventually come to light. As the University prepares to enter a new era of leadership, we thought it fitting to highlight what we, as students, believe our new President should stand for – both in terms of academics and community. Father Harrington had a vision for St. John’s – he wanted to guarantee that the University stayed on an upward track of progress into the new millennium. Now that the University is thriving in terms of maintaining a high-standing reputation among the community of institutions of higher education, it’s time that the administrative leaders of the University begin to steer their focus to making certain that the University community holds the same view of St. John’s as the public does. We want a president to instill a culture into St. John’s where professors aren’t afraid to lose their jobs for speaking their opinions on matters that affect their profession, where a student government isn’t afraid to comment in fear of going against the views of administrators and where students don’t have to question the actions and morals of the individuals who oversee the University. But none of the latter can truly be accomplished unless our new president embodies an ethos that is concerned with the intellectual and social growth of faculty and students alike in the modern times. We want a leader who has the ability to think outside the box. We want someone who is not only willing, but desires to become a regular face to the eyes of the University community. But even more than wanting these things, we need them. Editorial Board XCI Kieran Lynch, Editor-in-Chief Mitchell Petit-Frere, Managing Editor Jessica Lise, General Manager Christopher Brito, News Editor

Successor must restore faith

MICHAEL E. CUNNIFF Editor-in-Chief, Emeritus

At the end of the Dark Age of the St. John’s men’s basketball team (the turbulent Mike Jarvis era), Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., Still-President of the University found himself in hot water after bemoaning the “culture” of the team. “Cultures develop on a team,” Harrington told the New York Daily News in February 2004. “And I’m not talking about ethnic culture or religious culture. It’s the way people interact and what they think is acceptable or not acceptable.” By Harrington’s definition, there’s a cultural problem in the office of the president at St. John’s – a culture of corruption. Harrington and chief of staff Rob Wile thought it was “acceptable” to leverage their relationship with Cecilia Chang to live the high life. Harrington used his cozy relationship with the Board of Trustees to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in reportedly interest-free loans for his protégé Wile. The statement in support of Harrington issued by Cardinal Timothy Dolan shows that

there’s another cultural problem – the tendency of Catholic clergy to circle the wagons when one of its own is facing allegations of wrongdoing. We’ve seen before that there’s very little accountability when priests, bishops and cardinals do wrong, and the situation with Harrington is no different. Dolan had the chance to restore some faith in the institution that many at St. John’s have lost throughout this scandal. He had the chance to put his foot down, and say that this type of behavior is not in line with Catholic teaching, and not the way a priest should act. He could have said that although Harrington did a lot of great things, he exhibited extremely poor judgment when doing things like taking trips to Turks and Caicos with Wile and his then-girlfriend, or accepting fancy suits and watches from Cecilia Chang and her friends. He didn’t. Dolan’s statement, like NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s and the Very Rev. Michael Carroll’s, neglected even to mention the appalling scandal that has plagued the campus all semester. “I am delighted to learn that in his retirement Father Harrington will be available

to the Church to continue to champion Catholic education” Dolan said. “I expect to call on him.” Dolan, like everybody involved with this case, took the easy way out. Harrington’s corruption doesn’t even rise to the level of footnote in his biography as written by St. John’s office of external relations. Instead, look at our pretty new buildings! The dorms! Steve Lavin! That’s Harrington’s legacy to them, not the $350,000 that went from student tuition payments to Wile’s pockets, or the eyewatering figures lavished on Harrington and Wile by Chang, who billed it all back to the University. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this whole sordid affair, and I fear that the University won’t learn any of them. I fear that the next president will come in with the same mentality that Harrington did, and view his role as a CEO, rather than as a spiritual and moral leader. I fear that the new president will continue to refuse to level with students and faculty. I fear that the new president will see nothing wrong with driving an Audi, or wearing Patek Phillipe

watches, or staying in fivestar hotels on trips to Asia, with layovers in Hawaii (all things that Harrington decided didn’t conflict with his vow of poverty). I fear that while the actors will change, the institution will not. And it needs to. As a Yale business professor told New York Magazine, you don’t see the kind of shenanigans that happened at St. John’s except in corrupt institutions. Fair or not, that’s the perception of the University that Harrington leaves. The new president’s first priority should be to restore honor and integrity to the University, and save the reputation of St. John’s. That requires disavowing Harrington’s actions, publicly and explicitly. Nobody will believe that anything has changed until the University divorces itself from the man who has brought so much shame to the school. The Board of Trustees needs to make a clean and decisive break from the Harrington Era with its investigation report and its new hire, or risk the University continuing to fall from its perch as one of the leaders of Catholic higher education.

Goodbye to an unknown man

NICOLE VALENTE Managing Editor, Emeritus

If three years ago, as I was finishing my first year at St. John’s, someone had told me that two weeks before graduation I would be awoken from an afternoon nap by a call asking if I’d heard that Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M. had announced his retirement, I would have said, “who retired?” That was before I had gotten involved with the Torch or pretty much anything at this University. Norm Roberts was the highest ranking person I could name, and he’d been fired. Harrington could have walked up to me, introduced himself and shook my hand and I still wouldn’t have known who he was. To many alumni and longstanding faculty, he may be remembered for the immense changes in the University: adding residence halls, becoming an international university, expanding the national recognition of a traditionally regional university, etc.

But to many students of the modern era, Harrington will either be remembered for the fallout of the Cecilia Chang ordeal or simply, not remembered at all. The fact is that many students at St. John’s have never met Harrington and for those seniors, they may only come in contact with him at their commencement ceremony (that is, if he still attends) on May 19th. Harrington was not a name often mentioned by students around the University before this year. But as Cecilia Chang’s federal trial began in October, Harrington became the center of much attention – and not in the way he probably would have liked. The initial New York Magazine investigation, as well as follow-up reporting by the Torch, showed his personal business relationships with Robert Wile, his chief of staff and vice president of Institutional Advancement, as well as trips and gifts furnished by Chang on the University’s dime.

In recent years, his private nature has proven to be a problem for him. Even when things went well, he chose to remain as an unknown figure. When things have turned to the wayside, his public image – these reports, the testimony – are the only things the student body know of him. While the results of the Board’s investigation have not been released, and may never, Harrington’s image problem was clear enough to the University that it felt the need to send the student body not one or two emails regarding his retirement, but four. The last email included praise for Harrington from both Cardinal Timothy Dolan and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. What is possibly more depressing for Harrington than much of the student body believing he was a corrupt president will be the fact that after all of this, the good press and the bad, there will still be students who don’t know who he is or what he’s done at the University. When we interviewed

students for the Student Sparks question this week, many didn’t know who Harrington was and therefore couldn’t answer the question. These aren’t the outliers at the University. They are the everyday students on campus to prepare for their finals on the Unviersity Study Day. Students who live in the dorms that didn’t exist 24 years ago at the beginning of his reign or those studying abroad on either the Paris or Rome campuses may not realize the lasting impact, good or bad, that he has had. This entire situation has not been ideal for anybody associated with the University. However to the University community, the lack of a true leader in Newman Hall was the biggest disappointment throughout the year. During Harrington’s tenure, a culture without transparency and accountability became the norm at St. John’s. At the end of July, Harrington will leave St. John’s the way he ran it, in the background, hiding behind other people’s statements.


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.