Marquette Settles With Woman Whose Job Offer Was Revoked

June 10, 2010

Marquette University announced Wednesday that it has reached a "mutually acceptable resolution” with Jodi O’Brien, a scholar who was offered the job of dean of arts and sciences, only to have the offer rescinded -- a move that has angered many faculty members. O'Brien is a lesbian and some of her writing is about lesbian sexuality -- facts about which she was frank during the interview process. Marquette declined to reveal details of the settlement. But a statement from the Rev. Robert A. Wild, the president, said: “We deeply regret the upset and unwanted attention that we caused this outstanding teacher and scholar, and we are grateful for the graciousness with which she has handled this matter in the weeks since the decision was announced.” Father Wild said his decision to rescind the contract reflected his judgment for the university on issues arising from aspects of O’Brien’s writings as they pertained to the university’s mission and identity. “To be sure, the university recognizes that, as is true of many judgment calls, different individuals and institutions could reasonably reach a different conclusion, even in the context of leadership positions,” he added.

O'Brien issued her own statement Wednesday night: "Throughout the recent settlement talks my intent has been to be responsive and respectful to the members of the Marquette community and the Milwaukee area residents who have shown such tremendous support for me. I have received hundreds of messages, including many from local Catholics, expressing dismay at the university's decision to suddenly cancel my hire. This support has inspired me to work toward an agreement that acknowledges the pain and damage to the Marquette community as well as to myself. I accepted the position of dean with the sense of a mandate to cultivate mutual understanding and respect among the many different voices that make up the Marquette community and the local and regional environments. Hopefully this work will be carried out through the terms of the resolution. I appreciate the responsiveness of the Marquette representatives to suggestions regarding a legacy of community betterment, including research and education regarding issues of gender and sexuality. I look forward to watching that progress unfold."

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