St. Thomas faculty member embroiled in sex abuse investigation to retire

Minnesota Public Radio

Madeleine Baran , Jon Collins St. Paul, Minn. May 30, 2014

The University of St. Thomas said Tuesday that a long-time faculty member who faced questions about his knowledge of sexual abuse allegations against a professor is retiring.

Don Briel, director and founder of the Center for Catholic Studies, will retire on Aug. 31. The announcement comes amid an internal investigation into whether Briel or others at the university knew that an archdiocesan board had recommended that the Rev. Michael Keating, a professor of Catholic Studies, not mentor young adults. Briel has worked for the university for 33 years and founded the Center for Catholic Studies in 1996.

In a statement released this week, University president Julie Sullivan called Briel an academic entrepreneur and praised his leadership in the development of the Catholic Studies program. “I greatly appreciate Dr. Briel’s dedication and contributions, throughout his many years of distinguished service, to the success of the program and the center, which will continue to serve important roles in the development of Catholic higher education worldwide.”

Reached by telephone on Wednesday night, Briel, 67, called his retirement a “private decision that I’m not inclined to talk about.” In an email to MPR News on Thursday, he wrote, “I’m not inclined to speak about it in depth for a number of reasons. However in general I think it not a good idea for someone to lead a project for over twenty one years and it seems a good moment to explore new options for the future.”

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