Mary Daly Ends Suit, Agrees to Retire

Mary Daly Ends Suit, Agrees to Retire

Former Assoc. Prof. Mary Daly's (Theology) two-year legal dispute with Boston College came to an end last week when Daly and her attorney, Gretchen Van Ness, approached the University for a settlement four days before the case was to be heard at Middlesex Superior Court.

Daly, who had taught theology at BC since 1967, called for the settlement to avoid a trial regarding her claim that the University had violated her tenure rights.

At her request, BC accepted the settlement and agreed to a clause that bound both parties to "keep the existence and terms of the settlement agreement confidential."

Three days later however, Van Ness, a Boston attorney, broke the agreement by sending a press release to the Chronicle of Higher Education claiming "a victory for Daly" and implying that BC had initiated the settlement proceedings. The next day, Van Ness issued a retraction stating that the release "contained erroneous statements including the suggestion that the case had been settled at the initiation of Boston College and that the settlement constituted a 'victory' for Daly." She went on to confirm that she had initiated the discussions that resulted in the settlement of the case on the eve of the trial.

Most importantly, Van Ness confirmed that Daly had in fact agreed to retire from her faculty position.

In a statement to the press, Office of Public Affairs Director Jack Dunn said, "Throughout the dispute the University has maintained that Dr. Daly agreed to retire and relinquish her position as a tenured faculty member of Boston College rather than to admit male students into her classes. The dispute between Mary Daly and Boston College has been settled. She is retired from Boston College."

Daly, a radical feminist, gained notoriety during the years at Boston College over her refusal to admit male students into her theology classes. Boston College had consistently reprimanded Daly, insisting that her actions were in violation of University policy and Title IX of federal law.

After refusing to admit two male students into her class in 1998, University administrators once again confronted Daly and insisted that she admit the students in accordance with school policy. In January of 1999 she agreed to retire and relinquish her tenure rights rather than admit the male students. Months later, however, Daly reneged on her commitment and brought suit against the University, alleging a violation of her tenure rights.

In a preliminary injunction hearing held in May of 1999 at Middlesex Superior Court, Judge Martha Sosman denied Daly's request for an injunction against Boston College. In her ruling, Sosman stated that "Boston College has made a strong argument in support of its contention that Daly did in fact agree to retire. Daly took the position that she would rather resign than admit students to her class. Indeed there is no question that the school has adequate cause to terminate Daly if for some reason her promise to resign turns out to be unenforceable."

The University was preparing for the Feb. 7 trial when approached by Van Ness for a settlement.

"Boston College was certain that we would have prevailed in the trial, but we accepted Dr. Daly's request for a settlement to avoid a protracted and costly court case that would have proved embarrassing to Dr. Daly," said Dunn.

"We are pleased that the issue has been resolved and that the matter is now behind us."

-Office of Public Affairs staff


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