To the Editor:
I write to express concerns about your reporting for two front-page stories in the March 23 edition of the University News.
While no doubt of interest to your readers, the lack of balance and fact-checking in the story about the Magis Operational Excellence program, and the sensational and inaccurate headline in the story about the School of Medicine accreditation reflect poorly on your venerable publication.
In the story, “University-wide layoffs leave staff dismayed,” why was no one from the administration contacted for the story? If they had been, the reporter would have learned that the Writing Center will continue providing thousands of student-writing consultations every year. Careful planning by University leadership has ensured that this valuable student resource remains available.
And I would have been glad to share that the development of new University and Athletic logos in 2015 did not cost “millions” as purported by one of your interviewees. Rather, the entire project cost $150,000 — which was primarily funded by the University’s marketing division — and the effort was essential to enhancing and growing the Saint Louis University brand, which is one of SLU’s strategic priorities for the future.
As to an alleged lack of transparency, a website was established to give the SLU community updates on this initiative. Additionally, there have been dozens of meetings that included faculty, staff and students about the reasons for the University’s deficit. Furthermore, the steering committee that is guiding the program includes two students, and information about the program has been shared with the President’s Advisory Council, which includes the SGA executive board. This process has been transparent and inclusive from the beginning.
Equally concerning is the headline, “SLU medical school on life support.” This headline is not only overly sensational, it is entirely inaccurate. Those who read beyond this erroneous headline, learned that our medical school remains fully accredited — a very long way from being on “life support.” At least a reporter reached out to the administration for this story. The interview with School of Medicine Dean Dr. Kevin Behrns revealed his plan for remediating the issues as quickly as possible. Again, the University has been very transparent about this issue. And while this story was more factual than the aforementioned piece, it must be pointed out that it is SSM Health St. Louis — not SLU — that is building the new hospital and outpatient care center on Grand Boulevard.
As a former journalist, I appreciate the importance of a strong student newspaper on a college campus. But balance and facts matter, and they were noticeably absent in your coverage of two of the academic year’s most important news stories. I am confident that you will strive to do better in the future.
Vice President for Marketing and Communications