OPINION: The Unjust Firing of Mauricio Gonzalez

Noah Meyer, Opinions Editor

On Aug. 13, 2018, Mauricio Gonzalez, the Vice President of Student and International Affairs, was suddenly fired by President David Szymanski. This firing comes after 18 years of service to the university and a year before his planned retirement—raising questions over the ethics of his removal.

Gonzalez was an important fixture throughout Former President John Delaney’s tenure and was essential to the establishment of many of UNFs most beloved initiatives. Some of the biggest projects Gonzalez helped push through were the creation of the Military and Veterans Resource Center, the LGBT Resource Center, the Catastrophe Fund for Students in Need, Expansion of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, as well as both the Martin Luther King Jr. statue and the Gandhi statue in the Peace Plaza. This is just a short list of the many accomplishments Gonzalez had in making UNF what it is today, and also raises the question of why exactly he was removed.

In a recent interview with Gonzalez on his firing, he claimed he was told his firing was to “improve metrics.” This is obviously a very nebulous phrase that could mean many different things, but the easiest translation is essentially that President Szymanski thought Gonzalez was not worth the cost after the restructuring of Student and Academic Affairs.

It seems frankly disgusting that a new incoming president would easily dismiss someone who committed much of their life to improving UNF, but as I have noted before, President Szymanski is purely a businessman—expecting any sort of ethical or empathetic treatment of people or programs is a fool’s exercise. President Szymanski is here because he serves the university’s economic best interest, and not much else. When President Szymanski’s office was asked for comment the only reply was from the director of the Department of Public Relations stating, “We don’t discuss personnel matters.” They don’t care what the concerned faculty and students think—to them this is business as usual.

With the removal of Gonzalez and the restructuring of student affairs, the Interim Provost and Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs Pam Chally now has a job title as large as the amount of departments she must manage. Gonzalez said, “It’s close to 20 departments. They doubled the work of Pam Chally.” It seems ridiculous to imagine this restructuring is in any way more efficient than the previous separation of academic affairs and student affairs, but this consolidation exactly matches contemporary business practices. Businesses would rather pay one person to do more for less than pay two people for the same work. Strangely, there has been no word if Pam Chally is being paid double for doing double the amount of work—imagine that.

The firing of Mauricio Gonzalez is yet another questionable decision to come from the office of President Szymanski. While it is to be expected that a new president will restructure things in a manner they prefer, the firing of Gonzalez is a vile way to treat someone who has given so much to UNF. It isn’t much of a mental exercise to imagine ways that President Szymanski may have honored Gonzalez and let him leave on his own terms—all they had to do was wait one year. I think I speak for most at UNF when I say I hope only for the best for Mauricio Gonzalez. He committed 18 years of his life to improving UNF—if only UNF had shown that same commitment to him.

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