by Irma Pelt
Senior Staff Writer
Faced with cutting faculty and staff positions as a result of budget cuts, Melissa Olivares, human resources representative at Hardy University, attempted to bring levity to the termination process.
“With all due respect, Melissa came to human resources after several years of working in student activities,” said Mitchell Bealor, Director of Human Resources at Hardy. “Perhaps our expectations and outcomes were not clearly outlined for her.”
According to a complaint filed with the university ombuds office, Olivares planned a surprise party for Garrett Foerster, a faculty member in the department of restaurant and hotel management, whose position was eliminated.
“The surprise party itself wasn’t the problem,” said Bealor. “Everyone loves a party, right? The real issue is that Garrett wasn’t informed of his termination prior to the party.”
“What the hell?” said Foerster. “I got an invitation to have lunch with my supervisor. I thought it was going to be my annual performance appraisal, but it was like a Hardy edition of ‘This is Your Life.'”
Foerster said that all of his faculty colleagues were present at the event, which was replete with streamers, balloons and a sheet cake.
“It would have been a great farewell party except for the part where I didn’t know I was being terminated – but my colleagues all did,” said Foerster. “Even my wife and kids were there.”
Bealor said that Olivares’s actions are under review by the department, but he is not sure she will face corrective action.
“I think that, despite some obvious flaws in this plan, Melissa is forward thinking. This set up eliminates that awkward individual meeting with an outgoing employee and sets us up to celebrate what they accomplished while they were here,” said Bealor.
Olivares issued an apology to Foerster and twenty-nine other employees who were terminated under similar circumstances.
“I guess I see where I made some mistakes,” said Olivares. “I wanted these employees’ last impressions of Hardy to be positive and what’s more positive than really good party? I think the balloon arch was especially a nice touch, kind of like when an animal crosses the Rainbow Bridge.”