I wish I was writing to you under more positive circumstances, as
opposed to the serious concerns raised over the appearance of the
articles on John Dzik and his reported dismissal by Cabrini College.
The Sunday Inquirer Article on the day the Eagles were in the
playoffs certainly was a low point in the attention to this
The fact that these articles got to the point of appearing
throughout the Philadelphia media, and then forwarded well beyond,
is very disappointing. After reading the articles, what is even more
disconcerting is the seeming lack of strategy in handling and
addressing a personnel situation (which I am sure has many sides to
it) -- that now has grown into the perception of a bigger issue by
many who are speculating and commenting negatively on the treatment
of not only a long time employee, but the longstanding tradition he
represents at the College - especially in his advocacy for students,
particularly minority students.
Unfortunately in this media and marketing-driven world,
perception is reality; and right now the reality of the aftermath of
this unfortunate situation is a negative strike that hits the alumni
especially hard (immediately and long term) - because it strikes at
tradition and relationships that are a hallmark of the experience
and memories many still hold onto about their Cabrini experience. It
sends the message that those traditions and relationships do not
matter any more, that the College has grown beyond caring about
those traditions and relationships. It tarnishes the references to
"education of the heart" that are so often used and now have been
given reason to be questioned.
Please know I am writing these thoughts to you both as someone
who was NOT an athlete, friend or loyalist to John Dzik. I am
writing this as a former Alumni Association President for six years
(1995-2001) and a former Student Government Association President
during my time at Cabrini. In both my college and alumni life, I
have witnessed since I arrived at Cabrini in 1981 the positive
effects of Dzik's presence and support in many circumstances,
student and alumni lives, and events that went beyond the call of
duty and compensation of the positions he held, and went to the
heart of the many relationships he has cultivated over the years.
As the College is preparing not only for a capital campaign, but
also a coming together of where we came from, where we are, and
where we are going with the 50th anniversary celebration, it casts a
pall of moving away from where we came from, our history, and what
still connects us to the Cabrini College of today. I would hope that
the types of relationships that I was able to develop with such
extraordinarily dedicated individuals would be respected and
maintained over time and that students today are afforded the same
opportunities to build such relationships as I was. It would be sad
to think of returning to a Cabrini celebrating 50 years that did not
include those individuals who built the many facets of this
institution over time. Did anyone think of what a 50th celebration
of Cabrini College would be without the 25 years of John Dzik's
accomplishments and relationships?? Again, it seems from the outside
that a personnel situation was unable to be handled appropriately
and now has spun well out of control and out of the boundaries of
containment within the college.
I also know from my seven years experience as an adjunct
instructor at Cabrini, that maintaining positive relations between
faculty/staff and administration is never easy, especially as change
is mandated and enacted. However, it is always important to remember
that the faculty and staff are the front lines of marketing and
satisfaction with an institution like Cabrini. I hope that with the
desire to move into the era of the Cabrini of tomorrow, that those
channels of marketing, satisfaction and relationship-building are
not lost, discarded or deemed insignificant in meaning.
For instance, I wonder how inquiries from alumni and long time
friends of the college will be acknowledged or addressed (or if they
will be acknowledged or addressed). Will concerns be responded to
because of the long term impact that could take root, or discarded
as a knee-jerk reaction that will simply go away? If these articles
have any hint of truth to them, then one would be concerned that
things are handled without direct conversation and communications.
This is a moment in time symbolic of the connection of the past
and future of this great institution on the eve of a milestone
anniversary. These are times of change where attitudes and responses
will dictate how 2-3 generations of alumni will view their alma
mater. These are decisions that say we want you with us, or it
doesn't really matter if you're with us.
And if it doesn't really matter, then even the immediate
reactions will soon fade away and begin not to matter -- even to
people like me who love and support Cabrini College with a passion I
hope never goes away!
There are so many things that have been accomplished in the short
and long term that have built up the position of this College as a
viable and competitive institution of higher learning that has found
a real niche. I would hope our emotional viability is just as
healthy as we venture into the second 50 years and beyond as we
continually strive to strengthen the heart of who we are as a
Catholic Cabrinian ministry.
Thank you for reading this letter.
Robin Larkins, Class of 1985
cc: Dr. Antoinette Iadarola President, Hillary Hoch Chybinski '90
Alumni Board President