University of Massachusetts-Lowell Dean of Nursing Leslie Neal-Boylan issued an email on June 2 to the Solomont School of Nursing in light of the recent anti-racism demonstrations across the country, sources told Campus Reform. In the message, Neal-Boylan told students that "everyone's life matters." Days later, Neal-Boylan was out of a job.
The sources shared with Campus Reform the email over which Neal-Boylan was allegedly fired.
"if we do not stand up against violence against anyone. BLACK LIVES MATTER, but also, EVERYONE'S LIFE MATTERS"
“I am writing to express my concern and condemnation of the recent (and past) acts of violence against people of color,” Neal-Boylan wrote in the email. “Recent events recall a tragic history of racism and bias that continue to thrive in this country. I despair for our future as a nation if we do not stand up against violence against anyone,” she added.
"Dear SSON Community," the email provided to Campus Reform begins. "I am writing to express my concern and condemnation of the recent (and past) acts of violence against people of color. Recent events recall a tragic history of racism and bias that continue to thrive in this country. I despair for our future as a nation if we do not stand up against violence against anyone. BLACK LIVES MATTER, but also, EVERYONE'S LIFE MATTERS."
“No one should have to live in fear that they will be targeted for how they look or what they believe," the provided email continues.
This sparked controversy among many who received her email. The letter was posted to Twitter by a student who expressed disappointment in the Dean’s "everyone’s life matters" statement.
An upsetting statement made by the Dean of Nusing at UMass Lowell, including the statement ‘all lives matter’ was uncalled for and shows the narrow minded people in lead positions. A sad day to be a nursing student at UML. Dean Leslie Neal-Boylan your words will not be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/a9rTd4NGVP— haley #BLACKLIVESMATTER (@psychohighrep) June 4, 2020
“An upsetting statement made by the Dean of Nursing at UMass Lowell, including the statement ‘all lives matter’ was uncalled for and shows the narrow minded people in lead positions,” the tweet read.
This quickly caught the attention of the school, which replied from its official account thanking the student for "bringing this to our attention.’"
Sources familiar with the situation told Campus Reform that the dean's employment had been terminated just days after her "everyone's life matters" email.
University spokesperson Christine Gillette told Campus Reform Wednesday that the University acted in students' best interest.
“The university ended the employment of Dr. Neal-Boylan on June 19 after 10 months in her role as dean of the Solomont School of Nursing. As with all such decisions, it was made in the best interest of the university and its students," Gillette said.
One document provided to Campus Reform was allegedly written by Neal-Boylan and sent to Provost Julie Nash. The letter, dated June 19, begins, "As you know, I was fired from my position as dean in the Solomont School of Nursing..." The author claims that an exit interview was requested, but not granted.
"It is important to point out that no one ever gave me an opportunity to share my views of how the college and school were interacting nor explain myself regarding the BLM email. My meeting with you, [Dean] Shortie [McKinney], and Lauren Turner was clearly not intended to give me an opportunity to defend my actions. I was condemned without trial," the letter obtained by Campus Reform reads.
McKinney did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Campus Reform.
Another document provided to Campus Reform, dated June 16, is addressed to UML Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney and Provost Joseph Hartman. That letter states, in part, “It seems clear that College Dean McKinney used my email regarding Black Lives Matter (BLM) as rationale to fire me. This is attributable to one phrase in my initial email that otherwise was very clearly a message to NOT discriminate against anyone...It is clear that Dean McKinney used this as an excuse because my performance as dean has otherwise been without fault and has, in fact, strengthened the SSON. You might be interested to know that I have NEVER (in a 40 year career) been accused of racism."
The same letter went on to list 13 "accomplishments" from the "past 10 months."
Campus Reform spoke with one faculty member who asked to remain anonymous. The source said the faculty was "totally dismayed" and "completely floored" by Neal-Boylan’s termination. It was allegedly determined that her firing was not due to performance, the source said.
“The Dean of the College of Health Sciences, Shortie Mckinney, had a meeting the day after [the incident], a town meeting… People wanted to know why [she was fired], and what was confirmed is it wasn’t a performance issue,” the source told Campus Reform.
The employee said that the faculty discovered the backlash against Neal-Boylan on Twitter and "put two-and-two together," determining the reason behind her firing, adding that it was not performance-based.
“After some investigation, we found the [tweets], and some of the comments that were posted, and put two-and-two together,” the source said. “She [Neal-Boylan] was a wonderful woman… When she came on board, it was like a ray of sunshine.”
The same source expressed to Campus Reform the "sheer injustice" Neal-Boylan received, adding that the staff feels "unsafe" to speak up.
“The sheer injustice that has been done to her is, it’s just so upsetting… In the meetings that we’ve had in the last week, people feel unsafe for their jobs if they have a differing opinion or they say something the wrong way,” adding that the faculty has been "absolutely" outraged.
“I suspect there are going to be exits,” the source said.
“The school has a couple candidates that were supposed to start in September. Not sure that’s going to happen. Both have expressed dismay. They were coming because Leslie was there. And, ironically, one of them is an African-American faculty member who actually had more, had a problem with the college Dean and no problem with Leslie,” the staff member added.
“This is as most unjust as I’ve come across. I understand that I work for a system that is very liberal… Until you experience firsthand, it’s shocking,” the source said. “The real travesty in all of this is the woman who has built a wonderful career-- 40 years... This could ruin her career, and it’s not right.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Addison_Smith49