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University employees stay overnight to apply for severance program

The Maroon

Published: Monday, December 16, 2013

Updated: Monday, December 16, 2013 16:12

Mercy Hall campout

ZACH BRIEN/ Staff Photographer

The LaSalle Street entrance of Mercy Hall was closed off from the public on Sunday, Dec. 15. Inside, Loyola employees waited overnight for the opportunity to participate in the voluntary severance program.

On top of submitting final grades, taking care of an injured relative and officiating a wedding, John Clark, philosophy professor, had to balance an overnight stay in Mercy Hall to elect into the voluntary retirement program.

Over the weekend, Clark and other Loyola employees camped out in the corridors of Mercy Hall in order to apply for the voluntary severance program starting Monday, Dec. 16 at 8:30 a.m., when the department of human resources opened.

According to an article published by | The Times-Picayune on Dec. 15, “several have been camping out since Friday.”

The voluntary severance program is being offered to employees who are both over 55 years of age and have completed at least 10 years of full-time employment at Loyola as of Dec. 31, 2013, the Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J., said in an email to university employees following approval of the plan on Friday, Oct. 18.

In an email sent to Loyola faculty and staff on Dec. 6, Wildes stated that the university had increased the number of tenured faculty members able to participate in the voluntary severance program to 102, approved at the Thursday, Dec. 5 and Friday, Dec. 6 Board of Trustees meetings.

Meredith Hartley, director of public affairs, said each eligible person could elect to participate in the program from Monday, Dec. 16 until Wednesday, Dec. 18.

Ross Matthews, director of human resources, said that after the election period closes, applicants will find out “in about a week” if they have been approved.

Clark said that he’d already spent 14 nights with his 95-year-old aunt, who recently sustained injuries from a fall, when the opportunity to elect into the voluntary retirement program came up. When he also had the commitment of officiating the wedding of Roxane Assaf, A’85, and he could not be in three places at once, Clark said he had to recruit the help of his family members.

“It became an opportunity for my son Jeremy and his friend to stay in Mercy Hall,” Clark said.

His other son, Brian, and his daughter, Kristin, also took shifts in the Mercy Hall queue so that Clark could attend the wedding.

Matthews said that those waiting in Mercy Hall were “very congenial,” and that although they were not assigned official numbers according to their arrival order, each person was “familiar with their neighbors” and knew where they fell in line.

Matthews said that people were getting up and wandering around, and that there was “a lot of camaraderie” among the group.

“It was a great experience to be with the Loyola staff in particular,” Clark said. He said that after his son Jeremy took a shift waiting in line, he told his father, “These are really wonderful people.”

Topher Balfer can be reached at
Aaren Gordon can be reached at

Editor's note 12/16/13: This article was updated to incorporate newly obtained information and quotes from John Clark.


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