3 E. Michigan Administrators Forced Out

YPSILANTI Mich.
Three Eastern Michigan
University administrators,
including the president, have been forced out, months after top school
officials were accused of covering up the rape and slaying of a student by
publicly ruling out foul play.

President John Fallon was fired, and Vice President of
Student Affairs Jim Vick and Public Safety Director Cindy Hall lost their jobs
at the 23,500-student public university, the chairman of the school’s governing
board said Monday.

Board of Regents Chairman Thomas Sidlik also said the board
would put a letter of discipline in the file of university attorney Kenneth
McKanders.

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 was not until another Eastern student, Orange Taylor III,
was arrested in late February and charged with murder that her family and
students learned she had been raped and killed. Taylor
has pleaded not guilty to murder and criminal sexual conduct charges in Dickinson’s
death, and is scheduled for trial Oct. 15.

An independent law firm investigation and U.S. Department of
Education report both found that the university violated the federal Clery Act,
which requires colleges and universities to disclose campus security
information.

Many in the 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.

Board member James Stapleton said it became clear from
conversations with Fallon and his attorney that Fallon was planning to take
action during Monday’s scheduled board meeting that would have damaged the
university. As a result, the board unanimously voted to fire him.

Neither Stapleton nor other regents would elaborate on what
he said Fallon was planning.

Fallon’s secretary did not know how he could be reached for
further comment. Fallon told the Ann Arbor News that a termination letter
indicated his office had been secured and that arrangements would be made for
him to retrieve personal items. He told the newspaper he was upset with how the
board handled his firing.

“As a citizen, I am disappointed in this hastily called
meeting, without any opportunity to be present or to respond,” Fallon told
the paper. “I have a story to tell and intend to tell it.”

Messages left by The Associated Press at a telephone listing
for the official president’s residence at Eastern Michigan
and by e-mail were not immediately returned. A gate prevented access to the
front door of the residence Monday afternoon. A call placed to the residence
from a telephone near the gate went unanswered.

Fallon has 60 days to leave the property, board members
said.

Fallon’s salary was $225,000 a year. His contract was to run
until July 2010, according to university spokesman Ward Mullens. According to
the terms of Fallon’s contract, he would be paid the equivalent of one year’s
base salary if the board fired him.

Vick, who has been on paid administrative leave since March,
told the News: “My first choice was to come back. But you don’t always get
your first choice.”

The board appointed Provost Donald Loppnow as executive vice
president. In that dual role, Loppnow will serve as the school’s chief
executive until an interim president is selected.

Robert Dickinson, the slain woman’s father, said anybody
implicated in the federal report “should probably expect the same”
fate as Fallon.

“I fire my baristas if they do wrong,” said
Dickinson, who owns a coffee house in the western Michigan
community of Hastings. “The
board of this school should do whatever they need to do.”

.

On the Net:

Eastern Michigan
University: http://www.emich.edu


– Associated Press writers David Runk in Detroit
and Tim Martin in Lansing
contributed to this report



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