By: Rebecca Reese, News Editor
“Here’s what we both would like to say: We are both relieved this is over and will let the settlement speak for itself,” John Castaldo and Rodney Jacobson said in an email earlier this week.
Jacobson and Castaldo were suspended without pay last year following an investigation from the college. The investigation found no wrongdoing on Jacobson and Castaldo’s part, but the two professors were suspended anyways. They are now set to receive settlements in result of a mediation held on March 31 with the Vermont Labor Relations Board.
Back in 2015, President Joe Bertolino notified business majors at Lyndon State College by email about what had turned into major controversy on and off campus.
“I write to inform you that Professors Rod Jacobson and John Castaldo of the Business Department will not be teaching at the College beginning with the fall 2015 semester.” President Bertolino wrote. “Until their return and in preparation for the academic year, Academic Affairs will be working closely with the Business Department faculty to ensure that Lyndon still offers its full and current business curriculum during this time. Additionally, Academic Affairs will ensure that all affected advisees are connected with new faculty advisors. As plans are finalized in the next few weeks, Academic Affairs will be communicating closely with the various faculty, staff, and student groups primarily affected. Please be assured that the College, as always, will continue to provide you – our students – with a high quality educational experience.”
According to an email addressed to students dated August 4, 2015, Castaldo explains, “I am writing to let you all know that issues have arisen with the administration for Professor Jacobson and I. As a result, Professor Jacobson and I have been temporarily suspended from Lyndon State and will not be teaching in the fall.”
“We have been accused of gender bias but were cleared of the charges.” Castaldo continues, “Nevertheless, the President has ignored the findings and resorted to this action. I assure you that we have hired an attorney and plan to defend our positions, but the point is that I owe you all clear explanation as to what is currently happening.”
The professors filed grievances against the college in mid-August of 2015 and continued to be suspended throughout the spring of 2016 as well.
Now Jacobson and Castaldo, respectively, will receive settlements of $295,000 and $190,000 along with full retirement and health insurance for life.
Both professors have resigned in return for the payment.
“This is also a bittersweet moment for both of us because we loved teaching and challenging Lyndon students so this is a great loss personally,” they said. “I trust that our students have communicated their feelings about what we accomplished and that we never waivered on the college mission: prepare each student for personal and professional success through experiential based learning.”
“We also want to say that we hope Lyndon continues to do the kind of work we have seen a village of dedicated people deliver daily for our students,” they said. “We have personally taken great pleasure in watching our students blossom into capable adults when they leave us at graduation and it has been an honor to work with these students, who have given as much to us, as we have to them. Seeing students get good jobs and succeed is confirmation that we were on the right track as a department.”
“And finally…. we are both looking forward to starting a new chapter in our lives which will include teaching at other institutions going forward,” they said.
Jacobson says he is personally looking forward to moving somewhere warmer. He said, “I am looking forward to moving near a university and/or college town that has more warmer, sunny days throughout the year.”
Castaldo and Jacobson say they wish everyone at the school well in their absence.