Dr. Ruth Tucker is a long time friend. She contacted me not long ago and asked for assistance in creating a special blog site. I'm bloggy, she wasn't. She wanted a place to tell her story, what had been happening to her at work that forced her to leave her treasured position as the first full time female professor at Calvin Theological Seminary in its 130 year history.
I remember when she was hired, and how happy she was, exhilarated at the opportunity. And, how she enjoyed being a part of the faculty, and interacting and engaging in good natured discussion with fellow faculty members.
But, things changed at Calvin Seminary. A new President came on board and a new climate emerged, one that was not so friendly toward the lone woman on the faculty.
She told me about her shock and horror at being informed in a routine employee evaluation session that her employment would be terminated in one year. She'd done a good job, had gotten good reviews previously, knew her students valued her teaching. She had been promised at hiring, in writing, a tenure track, full professor position in three years if all went well. What had happened?
Her efforts to find out what was behind the shocking news led to discoveries of false reports, new charges against her of "ungodliness" (which was unspecified, and she was not permitted to know what the supposed ungodliness consisted of), and requirement that she attend a series of humiliating "renewal" sessions over several months time.
I tried to persuade her to consult an attorney at this point, remembering all too well what happened to my own husband when he was fired in a most dirty and unjust manner from Moody Bible Institute over 25 years ago.
But, Ruth did not want to bring an attorney into the situation, fearing the seminary administration would find out and take it as an affront, and think she was taking an adversarial position in the matter. I then tried to persuade her to have a friend accompany her, or even insist on a tape recorder at the "renewal" sessions she was forced to endure.
She hoped, and believed, that if she went to the renewal sessions for the several months she was told to attend that she'd be put back on tenure track, and everything would be OK. I did not think so. But, and I'm so glad she did, she made copies of all documents and email messages, and put them in safe keeping. As it turned out, she would need them.
Her compelling and revealing story about what transpired during the years she tried to keep her job, get redress, bring charges against her out into the open, and finally leave is on her new blog, "My Calvin Seminary Story." It was launched on Labor Day and has had thousands of page views since.
I salute her for her courage and refusal to keep silent, as she was warned to do, and for her respectful and straightforward telling of what happened.
The kind of victimization Ruth experienced happens more frequently than is common knowledge. When my husband was fired from Moody Bible Institute many people contacted us to tell us their own similar stories. Such victimization is carried out in secret and denied by the perpetrators, who often resort to attempts at character assassination of the victims to try to make them less believable and less willing to tell what has been done to them.
I'm hoping such cases can get wide public notice and media attention so that those who are inclined to victimize will be less willing to do so, and people who have been victimized will see the value in going public with their own experiences.