Veteran Notre Dame philosophy professor Dr. David Solomon
laments the firing
of colleague Bill Kirk from his position as associate vice-president for Residence Life. Especially since he believes the reasoning behind the dismissal is questionable.
, Father Tom Doyle, Notre Dame’s new Vice-President for Student Affairs, terminated Kirk "in anticipation of a restructuring that I want to do." Still, he said Kirk was "a loyal, a thoughtful and a caring administrator for Student Affairs."
Despite the praises, Solomon is suspicious. "[Kirk's] removal from office took place against the background of other events at Notre Dame that inevitably raised questions about its real motivation," he wrote today in a column in
The Irish Rover,
an independent student newspaper at Notre Dame.
According to Solomon, Kirk (who had been at Notre Dame for 22 years) was removed because of his hard-line stance with athletes--treating them as he would any other students--and possibly because of his public disagreement with the university's decision to host President Obama, known for his pro-abortion stance, as the commencement speaker for 2009, and to award him an honorary degree.
Kirk's wife served as associate director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, and was also a faculty adviser for the Right to Life Club. During Obama's visit, Kirk joined her and numerous students at a rally sponsored by ND Response (see video below) protesting Obama's appearance. "He was the only senior administrator at Notre Dame willing to do so," says Solomon.
A Notre Dame spokesman refused to comment to
about the reasons behind Kirk's termination, saying that it doesn't discuss personnel issues.
Being fired for standing up to the administration would appear to be inconsistent with the faculty handbook.
it, Notre Dame "consciously create[s] an environment of mutual respect, hospitality and warmth in which none are strangers and all may flourish. ... One of the essential tests of social justice within any Christian community is its abiding spirit of inclusion."
But while official Catholic teachings are strict about abortion, Notre Dame has
come under fire
for not mirroring the Church's stance. According to the
, "Dozens of bishops" said that the university "had forgotten its Catholic mission by awarding the president an honorary degree."
Solomon noted that opinions such as Kirk's should be welcomed: "Universities are no place for yes-men."