Dustin Siggins

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Catholic college hires dean who served on Planned Parenthood advisory board

Dustin Siggins
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LOS ANGELES, CA, April 29, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Despite a backlash from alumni and national Catholic media, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) has hired Dr. Robbin Crabtree, who handled media relations for a Planned Parenthood chapter, to head its Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts (BCLA).

Critics were concerned about Crabtree's past as an advisory board and media relations committee member of Planned Parenthood of Putnam County, Indiana, from 1991 to 1993.

The National Catholic Register found that Crabtree had not included her past with Planned Parenthood in her original application for the LMU position.

LMU provost Joseph Hellige praised Crabtree as having a "deep understanding of the enduring value of the liberal arts...and...strong commitment to the values that flow from Catholic education in the Jesuit and Marymount traditions." Crabtree, who currently serves as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Fairfield University, said in a public statement that she was "look[ing] forward to working with...BCLA faculty on important projects for the entire university."

According to Crabtree, those projects include "implementation of the new core curriculum and consolidation of the already extraordinary commitments to academic excellence, diversity, and service.”

Crabtree's assistant at Fairfield said she was out of the office for the day when LifeSiteNews called to ask if she still supports the efforts of Planned Parenthood. Crabtree's defenders have produced no public record that she has renounced her past affiliation with Planned Parenthood, nor any promise not to work with the organization in the future.

An LMU spokesperson told LifeSiteNews that what a staff or faculty member does on his or her private time would not impact employment. The spokesperson also declined to note whether promoting views that run contrary to Catholic teachings on faith and morals on the job would impact the person's employment.

The Los Angeles archdiocese declined to comment on the hiring of Crabtree.

In a letter to "LMU Alumni, Parents, and Friends," Rev. Robert V. Caro, S.J. vice president for mission and ministry at LMU, wrote that "in hiring we have only one litmus test: candidates must understand our institutional commitment to Roman Catholicism, fully support our mission of academic excellence in the Jesuit/Marymount traditions, and commit themselves to furthering this identity and mission through their professional life at LMU."

Caro further criticized some opponents of Crabtree's hiring by pointing to how "more than 20 years ago, Dr. Crabtree consulted with a small woman’s health clinic in rural Indiana that was sponsored by Planned Parenthood and was one of the few health care resources for the poor and disadvantaged women in the area."

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"She was not an employee of the clinic but served only as an outside communications consultant," according to Caro. "Further, while in New Mexico over 15 years ago, Dr. Crabtree was briefly involved with a budding political organization, whose primary purpose was to find and support women candidates to run for state office...Associating Dr. Crabtree’s brief involvement with the group’s subsequent makeup and evolving political agenda is misleading."

RenewLMU.com, which says it "is an alliance of students, alumni, faculty, donors, and other LMU supporters who seek to strengthen LMU’s Catholic mission and identity," has criticized the hiring process and the decision to hire Crabtree.

RenewLMU claims LMU "has selectively withheld relevant information during and after the evaluation phase for the new BCLA Dean."

The group says that "it appears the selection committee voted on Prof. Crabtree’s candidacy before it knew of her involvement with Planned Parenthood or Las Adelitas," and asks if "there a formal re-consideration by the committee once this evidence came to light?"

Members also objected to the fact that the new dean at this Catholic college is “a professed atheist.”

Crabtree was one of two finalists for the dean position whose past brought concerns about support for life. The other, Ramon Gutierrez, has been a consultant for a Planned Parenthood arm in New York.

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