some men are a wee bit clueless: tales of academia vs. cancer continue

So…unless you have been living under a rock, you know what is irking my Tamoxifen-laden brain this week is the whole deal with the woman named Elizabeth Furey with a rare form of  Hodgkin’s who wanted to walk with her class on graduation from a graduate degree program at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia.  She was not asking for any special dispensation on her remaining credits which should be completed this summer.  She just wants to walk with the rest of her class while she is strong enough to do so. A/K/A a compassionate exception to an existing policy.

Anyway, the issue created a flurry of public sentiment (in Elizabeth’s favor) and a couple of news articles, and a couple of posts from yours truly, a breast cancer survivor blogger.

Myself personally, I have had a back and forth conversation with the President of the College, Sister Carol Jean Vale, SSJ.  Truthfully, we have had a very pleasant conversation and polite conversation back and forth.  We will probably have to agree to disagree here and there, but I will give her credit for responding to me.   She doesn’t know me from Adam’s house cat, to her I am a faceless, probably nearly nameless blogger – and to a lot of people bloggers are a little more scary than reporters.

So.  I have heard from yet another person at Chestnut Hill College.  A Kenneth J. Soprano, as in:

Kenneth J. Soprano, Ph.D.

Vice President for Academic Affairs/Dean of the Faculty

Office Location:  St. Joseph Hall, Third Floor, Room 80

Office Phone:  215.248.7022 E-Mail:

He sent me an e-mail.  Not personalized in the least.  As if I were some sort of fly to be buzzed off, truth be told.   Kind of little woman-ish. Not only that, but the e-mail he sent was just a forward of a school e-mail.  So maybe it is the Tamoxifen messing with my moods (I have been flashing and sweating like a house on fire the past week), but this just set my teeth on edge.  I am guessing he is not the college’s Goodwill Ambassador?

So here is his e-mail, and below it my reply:

From: “Soprano, Kenneth J., Ph.D” <>
Date: Fri, 4 May 2012 21:04:45 +0000
Subject: RE: Do you have no compassion?
A Message from the President,
Chestnut Hill College requires students to complete their requirements for graduation before they can participate in the graduation ceremony.  This is a policy grounded in respect for the integrity of the degree process, and in fairness for those students who have completed their degree requirements.
In March, Rebekah E. Furey asked the College to make an exception to the graduation policy in light of her medical circumstances and allow her the opportunity to participate at graduation. We carefully considered her request, but in the end the College decided against allowing her to participate in the 2012 graduation ceremony.  Our decision was not the result of rigid adherence to the policy, as some have suggested, but rather based on respect for the degree process and those who had invested the time and hard work to successfully complete their requirements.
Our decision was neither easy nor popular, and the ensuing controversy gave us cause to reconsider.  To all who know her and the special circumstances of her struggle, Ms. Furey is an inspiration whose courage and dedication should be recognized.  We agree, and we welcome Ms. Furey to participate in the graduation ceremony scheduled for May 12, 2012.
We continue to believe that the College’s graduation policy is fair and appropriate, and it will remain in effect.  As it has in the past, however, the College administration will continue to consider special exceptions to the policy as individual circumstances may warrant.
Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D.
Chestnut Hill College
Chestnut Hill College…celebrating 85 years of tradition and risk
Kenneth J. Soprano, Ph.D.
Vice President for Academic Affairs and
Dean of the Faculty
Professor of Biology
Chestnut Hill College
9601 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Phone:  215-248-7022


My reply:

Do you think that forwarding someone else’s words suffices as a response? Or is acceptable?

I do not.

Out of all the players involved, I now feel I have the least amount of respect for you. Truthfully the way you have responded, which to an extent makes me feel as if you have more respect for potted plants then women. Well sir, that makes you a bit of a dick.

Of course I wonder if this is how you got to your exalted academic position? By merely pushing papers/e-mails around?

I realize that you find people like myself to be both an inconvenience and an annoyance.

I will assume by your lack of a personal response and use of someone else’s words that you have been afflicted with some horrible malady that we all should pray for you?

Ok then. May you never be a woman affected by cancer.

About carla

Writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor. I write about whatever strikes my fancy as I meander through life.
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