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ISU president quits in lawn scrape

Timothy Flanagan | Illinois State University website

Timothy Flanagan | Illinois State University website

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Updated: April 24, 2014 10:11AM



Illinois State University President Timothy Flanagan resigned Saturday amid allegations that he struck a campus employee in a profanity laced tirade outside the president’s university-owned home.

Flanagan was appointed to the job only nine months ago. Police are investigating a Dec. 5 complaint that he struck a grounds superintendent in the chest during an argument over the care of the lawn.

The university trustees held a special meeting Saturday morning before accepting Flanagan’s resignation and naming Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Dietz as the university’s 19th president. Dietz was finalist in a 2013 national search for ISU president.

“I appreciate the experience of working with the students, faculty, staff and alumni of Illinois State, but, after discussion with the Board, I have decided it would be best that I pursue other opportunities,” Flanagan said in a statement released by the university.

Board Chairman Michael McCuskey thanked him for his service and wished him well on behalf of the trustees.

The university didn’t mention the Dec. 5 altercation in the statements released Saturday.

Flanagan has not been charged with any wrongdoing in the incident.

R. Patrick Murphy, a superintendent of grounds, has said his crew was aerating the lawn outside Flanagan’s home when the president rushed outside to confront him. Flanagan’s spit flew in Murphy’s face and clothes during the dustup, Murphy told police.

“He cuts loose on me. I’ve never seen such a thing happen. I was shocked,” Murphy told The Pantagraph newspaper in Bloomington.

Murphy was fired five days after the incident and is seeking his job back, The Pantagraph reported.

University police have forwarded their case to McLean County prosecutors, who intend to ask a special prosecutor to investigation to avoid a potential conflict because a member of the state’s attorney’s family works at the school in Downstate Normal, according to The Pantagraph.

Flanagan’s attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.

Flanagan was appointed in May to replace Al Bowman, president of the university for a decade. Flanagan received an annual salary of $350,000 plus benefits under his three-year contract. He previously was the president of Framingham State University in Massachusetts.

Contributing: Associated Press

Email: fmain@suntimes.com



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