20 Professors Cite Response to Murder in Calling for President's Ouster

June 20, 2007

Twenty professors at Eastern Michigan University have signed a letter asking the Board of Regents to fire the president.

The president, John A. Fallon III, is “ill suited to run the university,” the letter says, referring to an independent investigation of how Eastern Michigan responded to the murder of a student, Laura Dickinson, in December.

Although Mr. Fallon may not have consciously misled the campus about Ms. Dickinson’s death — the university maintained publicly for two months that there was no suspicion of foul play — he did not pursue the truth, the letter says.

“Poor leadership at the top of the administration has needlessly, repeatedly, and seriously harmed EMU in recent years,” it says. (Last fall, a faculty strike delayed the start of classes, after negotiations between professors and administrators collapsed.)

Mark D. Higbee, a history professor, read the letter at a regents’ meeting on Tuesday, according to a local news report. Also at the meeting, Mr. Fallon offered his first public apology for the university’s conduct in the murder case. “Never again will such a confounding series of mistakes be made on my watch,” Mr. Fallon said, according to the report.

The board has announced that it will not make any personnel decisions until it receives a report from the U.S. Education Department, which is also investigating the university’s handling of Ms. Dickinson’s murder. —Sara Lipka