The president of Eastern Michigan University was fired, months after top university officials were accused of covering up the rape and slaying of a student by publicly ruling out foul play.
The president, John Fallon, confirmed that he was fired Sunday evening by a unanimous vote of the Board of Regents, The Ann Arbor News reported in its Monday editions. Board secretary Jackie Kurtz on Monday confirmed the firing to The Associated Press.
Fallon told the newspaper that his termination letter was delivered Sunday night and did not state a reason for his firing. The letter said the board had voted unanimously to terminate his employment contract effective Sunday ? two years after his five-year contract took effect.
“As a citizen, I am disappointed in this hastily called meeting, without any opportunity to be present or to respond,” Fallon told the newspaper. “I have a story to tell and intend to tell it.”
University spokeswoman Pamela Young said she couldn’t discuss Fallon until after a board meeting planned for Monday afternoon.
The president’s dismissal follows an independent law firm investigation and U.S. Department of Education report, both of which found that the 23,500-student public university violated the federal Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to disclose campus security information.
The body of the slain student, Laura Dickinson, 22, was discovered Dec. 15 in her dorm room. At the time, university officials told her parents and the media that she died of asphyxiation but that there was no sign of foul play, despite evidence to the contrary.
It wasn’t until another Eastern student was arrested in late February and charged with murder that her family and fellow students learned she had been raped and killed.
The accused student, Orange Taylor III, of Southfield, has pleaded not guilty to murder and criminal sexual conduct charges in Dickinson’s death. He is scheduled for trial Oct. 15.
Many in the university’s administration were accused of covering up the truth and endangering students to protect the school’s image, which has been marred in recent years by tensions with faculty, students and the community.
The board was expected to meet later Monday to discuss the case. Still undetermined was the status of Vice President of Student Affairs Jim Vick and Public Safety Director Cindy Hall.
Howard Bunsis, president of the faculty union, said Monday that everyone involved in covering up information about Dickinson’s slaying should no longer be working for the university.
“It’s now time for the university to move forward,” Bunsis said. “When I say move forward, I mean put a total focus on what happens in the classroom between students and faculty. We’ve had a difficult time.”
Fallon’s secretary did not know Monday morning how Fallon could be reached for further comment. Fallon told the Ann Arbor News that the termination letter indicated his office had been secured and arrangements would be made for him to retrieve his personal items.
Messages left by The AP at a telephone listing for the official president’s residence at Eastern Michigan and by e-mail were not immediately returned.