HAMDEN — A recent Quinnipiac graduate has started a petition calling for the removal of the school’s chairman of the board of trustees, William Weldon.
Jack Onofrio, a 2019 graduate, started the petition on Change.org.
The petition, first reported by Quinnpiac’s student-run television news station, states that Weldon “has no place at the forefront of Quinnipiac’s management” and that he does “not reflect the values of the University.” As of Sept. 10, Onofrio’s petition had 168 signatures.
The petition comes in the wake of the Johnson & Johnson trial in Oklahoma that cost the company $572 million for its role in the country’s opioid crisis. Weldon joined the company in 1971 as a sales representative after graduating from Quinnipiac and became CEO and chairman of the board in 2002. He retired from his post in 2012 after a string of recalls forced the Food and Drug Administration to take over three of the company’s factories.
In 1998, Weldon served as worldwide chairman of pharmaceuticals at Johnson & Johnson.
The university declined to comment on the petition. Weldon could not be reached for comment.
In May, Quinnipiac President Judy D. Olian said the university was “indebted” to Weldon for a $15 million donation to the school.
Court documents from the Johnson & Johnson case reveal that “opioid sales increased fourfold” from 1994 to 2006 in Oklahoma and from 2011 to 2015 “more than 2,100 Oklahomans died of an unintentional prescription opioid overdose” and that in 2015, “over 326 million opioid pills were dispensed to Oklahoma residents, enough for every adult to have 110 pills.”
“You need to look at it in black and white,” Onofrio said. “Especially with Quinnipiac being a school that prides itself in its medical program.”
Other Quinnipiac graduates voiced their concerns on Onofrio’s petition.
Molly Davis, who studied healthcare, said “the last thing I want is for this school to be represented by a company directly responsible for pushing opioids...”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.