By Haley Costen
Students have been rallying in support of the former Associate Dean of the School of Management (SOM) Mary Dutkiewicz since the announcement of her firing last week.
Cathy Minehan, Dean of the SOM, explained the situation in a letter to faculty, staff and students of the SOM on Monday, Nov. 24.
Dutkiewicz, or Mary D. as she’s known affectionately by students, was let go after an investigation of a former SOM Program Office employee who was terminated after misappropriating funds.
While Minehan’s letter does not mention any misappropriation or knowledge of the crime on Dutkiewicz’s part, she was let go from her position.
“The fraud that occurred has made clear that some of the processes we had in place at the SOM did not serve us well, and that the SOM needs greater discipline and accountability in its operational controls,” Minehan said in her letter.
Minehan added that the Program Office will now report directly to her and will be reshaped in its size and responsibilities.
Dutkiewicz declined to comment on the situation.
Minehan acknowledged student complaints and worries concerning Dutkiewicz, calling her a “mainstay” of the community in her letter, but emphasized the decision was final.
“While I truly wish that things could be different, effective management oversight and the protection of financial resources require prompt, transparent and unambiguous decision making when oversight breaks down,” she said in the letter. “This is true in the business world; it is true in higher education; and it has to be true at Simmons as well.”
Minehan declined to comment to the Simmons Voice
President Drinan also addressed the situation in a letter on the College’s website last Monday, calling fraud an “aberration” at Simmons and asking employees to speak up when they see red flags.
“Moving forward, I am confident that we have enhanced our policies and financial protocols across all of Simmons to detect anomalies sooner and am optimistic that the need for better communication and closer managerial oversight is now uppermost in our minds,” Drinan said.
For almost 800 people, Drinan’s and Minehan’s responses were not good enough.
A change.org petition created by Laura Duerksen and signed by over 775 people calls for Drinan, Minehan, and Provost Katie Conboy to reinstate Dutkiewiscz.
“The Simmons College administration would be remiss to release Mary from her position. Moreover, we would like to assert Mary’s vital role in the careers of the students at Simmons and we stand in alliance with her today,” the petition states, calling her the “backbone” of the SOM.
Commenters call her the “SOM mom” and call the decision by Simmons “unconscionable behavior.”
During a meeting last Monday Minehan listened to appeals about Dutkiewicz from students and alumnae, but maintained that the situation is final.
According to SOM student Marcy Slack, several alumnae have petitioned that they will no longer donate to Simmons and simply walked out the door during Minehan’s announcement.
Minehan acknowledged faculty and alumnae in her letter, saying that she will reach out collectively to them.
“Right now, we are all feeling pretty trapped,” Slack said of her peers in the SOM. “Many of us graduate in a couple weeks and not only are we extremely busy, but we fear that we will be seen as ‘disruptive’ or something if we continue to aggressively pursue this.”
Here is Dean Minnehan’s letter.