Skip to main content

User login

Students And Faculty Rally In Support Of Former A.D.

September 29, 2012 by admin

By Joe Malanaphy

     On Wednesday Sept.12, a regular meeting of the Board of Trustees was scheduled to be held inside Brookdale's Higher Education Center in Neptune. Outside, however, students and faculty gathered prior to the meeting and peacefully protested the board's decision to terminate former Athletic Director Frank Lawrence back in May.
      Supporters gathered in the parking lot, holding signs and expressing their anger and disbelief over the board's decision to go against state Administrative Law Judge Donald Stein's recommendation to reinstate Lawrence after an investigation that lasted over a year.
      Asked prior to the meeting on his thoughts and expectations for the rally and the meeting that would follow, Jack Ryan, an English professor, said, " I think we'll have a nice showing of people who are willing to give up their time to drive, some from up to an hour or so away, so that they can voice their concerns over how money is being spent to prosecute someone in the most unfair of manners."
       "My expectations are that there will be some people on the board who will see that this isn't going away and that they maybe have to question their infallibility in regard to this. That's desperately what's needed is for people to look at it and start to assess this now" Ryan said.
    "There are going to be some of them that their hearts are so hardened about this, and they are sure that they are right no matter what the evidence shows that all the Who's in Whoville couldn't make them change their mind, even if they sang the shallow hymn of the republic, hallelujah," Ryan said.
      "I'm hopeful. I'm optimistic with this support. It gives us support because there are times that you feel so defeated and with this wonderful support and all the people that signed the petition, people just keep coming up to me saying 'don't give up, this is so wrong,' so it jumpstarts us.’ It gives us hope," said Liz Lawrence, Lawrence's wife.
      In regard to the support the Lawrences have been receiving, Liz Lawrence said "It's been overwhelming, it makes you feel like you kind of did something right with all these people here who are so supportive and that they understand he did nothing wrong and that he doesn't have to sit here and continue to prove that he didn't do anything wrong because people know and they know him. And they know the facts. And that's all Frank said was that I just want people to know the facts and that's the truth, and I didn't do anything wrong. But this is all so great; it really is."
      Walter Buchwald, 80, from Jackson said, "The whole thing was a lot of stupid. That’s what I think. As long as a judge said straighten out the paperwork, which they never did, but at that time Frank didn't know, and neither did the other guys who worked before him. So whoever decided to fire him...they weren't very bright."
      "I think it's terrible. I feel for Frank, I think they made a huge mistake, and I don't really understand why they did it," said Jamie Morreale, 49, from Long Branch.
      Gina D'Alessio, a 31-year old Sea Bright resident and Brookdale graduate said, "I was disgusted when I heard it. I kept in touch with Frank the whole time. He's one of the best people I know, and I was really sad to hear everything that was going on with the college. And I just hope they do the right thing for him."
      Laura McCullough, an associate professor in the English department, said, "I've seen what Frank has done for students. I know him personally and as a colleague. He's a terrific guy. This was a bonfire of the vanities. He was taken down in a political process for false reasons. A judge has said he should be reinstated, and this is a wrong that needs to be righted."
      Following the rally, supporters packed the Neptune HEC and some had an opportunity to voice their thoughts about the Lawrence situation to the board during the scheduled meeting.
     Of the supporters who spoke that night, a heartfelt speech prepared by D’Alessio, a former student-athlete, stood out.
      "The truth was Frank was not just a soccer coach. He became a role model, a therapist, a second father, someone you could trust, but most of all, a friend. To him, you were not just a player on his team, you became his family," D’Alessio said.
      "After my first season of soccer, my dad asked me if I thought I made the right decision(to attend Brookdale). Well, I was doing good in soccer, and I had a 4.0 GPA. He (Lawrence) cared about soccer, but he cared more about my education," D'Alessio said.
      "He was not just my soccer coach, he really cared. He knew if we missed class. He knew if we were getting bad grades, and he would set the girls up with a tutor."
      "I loved my experience at Brookdale, but I must say, I have never been more disappointed in the school. A school I was once so proud of, I am now ashamed of," D'Alessio said.
      D'Alessio also added, "He touches people's lives every day, semester after semester, year after year. He's a genuine person with a good heart, and what you're doing to him is just ludicrous. Your getting rid of Frank is the biggest mistake. You're not only getting rid of an athletic director, you're getting rid of the guy who is some girls’ father figure who doesn't have one at home."
      At this time during D'Alessio's speech, Chairman Josh Elkes interjected and said "At this point, I'd have to say you would be out of order. Thank you for your time."
      After the meeting, Dr. Maureen Murphy was asked if she was aware of any new developments in regard to the situation between Brookdale and Lawrence. "There's nothing we can do at this point. There's still pending litigation; at this point, there's nothing we can do," Murphy said.
      In response to hearing Murphy's statement, Professor Jack Ryan said "There certainly is something they can do. They can reinstate him. He's appealing it right now, so if they reinstated him, he'd drop the appeal." 

Premium Drupal Themes by Adaptivethemes