Friday, April 12, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 129



Creative writing loses two officials

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 program.

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 said.

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 not returned.

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.

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