September 27, 2012

Head suspended after theology school protest

The head of a theology school at a Catholic university college has been suspended after he criticised plans to close his department. Anthony Towey, head of the School of Theology, Philosophy and History at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, was suspended last week "pending investigations into a very serious disciplinary matter", the college has confirmed.

The action follows protests over plans to merge Dr Towey's department with the School of Communication, Culture and Creative Arts. Academics at St Mary's, which hopes to become Britain's first Catholic university by 2013, fear the lack of a dedicated theology department may harm teaching and research as well as undermine the college's commitment to its Catholic mission.

Students told Times Higher Education that Dr Towey was interrupted while giving a Christology lecture on 17 September and escorted off the premises of the institution by a member of security. His suspension comes after he sent an email to staff and students informing them about the proposed merger, saying he was "completely in the dark" about how it might affect students.

The email, seen by THE, criticises the "sudden decision" to merge the schools which he says "runs contrary to St Mary's procedures". Dr Towey also mentions the "overwhelming and reasoned opposition to the proposal across some 60 academic and administrative staff" members and suggests students could complain to their union or the college's chair of governors. "It is a tremendous sadness that this sense of community is being dismantled," he adds.

Dr Towey has distributed a document making detailed criticisms of the merger plans, which were put forward by the college's principal Philip Esler, a Bible scholar and former chief executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Lance Pettitt, head of the School of Communication, Culture and Creative Arts, has also said "the proposal to merge is ill-conceived, poorly researched and presents no coherent business case" in a draft response to the proposals.

However, St Mary's believes the merger will not only save money but will improve interdisciplinary research in religious studies. A spokesman added that Dr Towey had been suspended following "a grave breach of his professional duties" and that his teaching programmes would be fully covered.

From: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=421270

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The merger of the two schools of CCCA and TPH will save no money at all because St. Mary's intends to spend lots setting up a Centre for Catholic Theology with a very expensive Research Professor at its head.
Like every other claim St.Mary's puts out to support the merger , this one is entirely bogus.

The treatment of Anthony Towey is a separate matter, but it does look like he is being got out of the way by a senior management that dislikes any opposition

Anonymous said...

These bullying tactics are nothing new to the current St Mary's Senior management team. For example, about 18 months ago seveal highly respected teaching staff on the Sport Rehabilitation programme were suspected with out proper (any) process. Subsequently, they were reinstated and won compensation but the whole affair has caused lasting damage. The heavy-handed approach to Dr Towey's "removal" will probably not be the last. Very sad, especially in an institution which claims to uphold Christian values.

Anonymous said...

These bullying tactics are nothing new to the current St Mary's Senior management team. For example, about 18 months ago seveal highly respected teaching staff on the Sport Rehabilitation programme were suspected with out proper (any) process. Subsequently, they were reinstated and won compensation but the whole affair has caused lasting damage. The heavy-handed approach to Dr Towey's "removal" will probably not be the last. Very sad, especially in an institution which claims to uphold Christian values.

Anonymous said...

By a strange irony, Dr. Towey's suspension on the Monday did mean he could not take his place at the Governors' meeting on the same Thursday which was going to discuss the merger of the schools.

It took me a while to put those two things together - perhaps I'm too innocent.

M B Karamba said...

Oh, it seems now that the suspension is not being investigated as Dr. Towey is now redundant.

So the suspension basically embarrassed him, trashed his reputation, made him powerless to answer the case for merging his school, and - having served its purpose - is now dumped without anyone caring about the truth or otherwise of the allegation.

Notice of the redundancy was issued while Dr. Towey was in Ireland at a conference - known to the College - and took effect within 24 hours. He was not at any meeting to discuss redundancy and was offered seven days to appeal (after the redundancy was in place).

As it was said above "it does look like he is being got out of the way by a senior management that dislikes any opposition".

It does seem that someone really, really, doesn't like him.