Creative writing loses
By Christian Schmidt
Daily Cougar Staff
Two administrators in UH's graduate creative
writing program were put on administrative leave Thursday, effective immediately.
No explanation was
given for the decision.
Faith Venverloh, assistant director of
the creative writing program, and Lourdes Gomez, office coordinator for
the program, were asked to clear out their
offices and leave, a student who asked
not to be identified said.
A Daily Cougar reporter saw Venverloh leave
her office at 2 p.m. Thursday. The reporter attempted to speak to Venverloh,
but was told to speak to Julie
Checkoway, director of the creative writing
Checkoway refused to answer questions while
a tape recorder was on, and said she would make a statement Monday. She
did confirm that Venverloh
and Gomez were both on "administrative
leave with pay." She then said she had no further comment.
"Effective today, both Faith Venverloh
and Lourdes Gomez, who have been devoted members of our creative writing
program team, will be leaving on
administrative leave," a memo from Checkoway
Checkoway plans to meet Monday with Gary
Hawkins and Jenna Terry, student representatives of the program, to "answer
any general questions you
(students) may have about the impact of
the staffing change."
Terry declined to discuss the matter. "I
don't feel comfortable talking right now, especially in my role as student
rep," Terry said.
Phone calls to Venverloh and Gomez were
It was widely known in the department that
Gomez had given a letter of resignation in late March at the same time
that Venverloh told administrators
she would retire. Both women were planning
to leave in May, once the spring semester is over.
It is unclear why Checkoway put Venverloh
and Gomez on leave just three weeks before both were planning to leave.
"What brought this to a head today, I have
no idea," said Murray Farrish, a second-year master of fine arts student
in the program.
Students said they feel there is a lack
of communication between Checkoway and students about the state of the
program. They said Checkoway has
been sending e-mails and memos to students,
but has not fully communicated her plans for the program.
"Memos Julie has sent out have been very
evasive," said Wayne Miller, a third-year MFA student in the program. "The
students want to know what's
been going on. Rumors are flying."
Farrish also said Venverloh and Gomez did
not receive the respect they deserved for their service to the program
and the University.
"The human aspect is not being taken seriously
by Julie," Farrish said.