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May 25, 1995

Dental school staffer's dismissal protested

Some 260 School of Dental Medicine students, alumni and employees have signed a petition asking the school's administration to reinstate a staff member in the dental medicine Student Services office.

Charlotte Celidonia, 57, was dismissed May 5 after five years as a staff specialist III. According to Alfred W. Whitehead, director of dental Student Services, Celidonia's job was eliminated as part of an administrative restructuring of the office. "It wasn't a cost-cutting move," he said, emphasizing that the school does not plan layoffs.

Most of Celidonia's duties, including registering students and recording classroom attendance, will be done by new computer systems; the remaining duties will be distributed among other staff in the office, Whitehead said.

"She [Celidonia] was a good worker, and very well-liked by the students. It was unfortunate that she had to be laid off, but we couldn't find anything else for her to do," said Whitehead.

According to Celidonia, Whitehead knowingly down-played her job duties, which she said included coordinating Pitt's ISIS (Integrated Student Information System) network at the dental school. "He [Whitehead] knows, and I know, there's a lot more to that job than he let on," she said.

Kourosh Mozayanfar, a periodontics resident who wrote and circulated the petition protesting Celidonia's dismissal, called the decision "abrupt," "capricious" and largely the result of a personality conflict between Whitehead and Celidonia.

"This is just another example of the way the dental school administration does business. The abuses of power in this place are unbelievable," said Mozayanfar, who has been at the school for six years as a student and resident.

The petition, which is dated May 10 and addressed to dental Dean Jon Suzuki, states, in part: "Throughout the years, Mrs. Celidonia has been the most helpful, honest, hard-working, compassionate, efficient and courteous staff member employed at the School of Dental Medicine. Her dismissal is clearly considered, by all who know her (future alumni, alumni, faculty and staff) as an extreme autocratic act by the administration. We find it very difficult to convince ourselves that Mrs. Celidonia's dismissal was a justified decision toward improvement.

"Mrs. Celidonia had clearly proven, time and time again, that not only was she capable of performing her own duties superbly, but also that she could manage other personnel's duties, such as functioning as the financial aid officer. Her long record of services and her motherly love for every dental student and dentist that ever attended this school will remain for all alumni and future alumni to remember." Mozayanfar said this week that Suzuki has not responded to the petition. Suzuki did not return telephone calls from the University Times.

— Bruce Steele

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