Suffolk U. and Its President Abruptly Part Ways

Margaret A. McKenna is “no longer serving as president” of Suffolk University, the chairman of the Boston institution’s Board of Trustees announced in a statement emailed to reporters on Thursday, and the university has begun a search for a new leader.

The chairman, Robert C. Lamb Jr., thanked Ms. McKenna for her service but did not describe the circumstances of her departure.

According to The Boston Globe, Ms. McKenna said in a statement on Thursday night that she had been fired. She called the move “unfair” and said she planned to pursue a mediation process.

The statements came late in the day, after the trustees held an emergency meeting to discuss the results of an investigation into allegations that Ms. McKenna had spent university money lavishly and had spoken abusively to staff members.

Ms. McKenna became Suffolk’s president just over a year ago, but friction between her and the board erupted into a public feud in January, when several trustees — including the board’s chairman at the time, Andrew Meyer Jr. — reportedly sought to oust her. Many students and faculty members then rallied behind her. In early February the Faculty Senate issued a statement of support for Ms. McKenna and called instead for Mr. Meyer’s resignation.

In an unusual move that seemed to settle that dispute, Ms. McKenna and Mr. Meyer announced two days later that they would both step down. Mr. Meyer agreed to leave the board when his term expired, in May, and Ms. McKenna agreed to depart her office by the fall of 2017.

In April the board hired an outside lawyer to investigate the allegations against Ms. McKenna, which were made by George Regan, a public-relations executive who is threatening to sue the university. Ms. McKenna had fired his firm, Regan Communications, in February.

But those accusations may not have figured into the decision announced on Thursday. Mr. Lamb told the Globe that Mr. Regan’s assertions had been “thoroughly investigated” and that the board had determined they were unsubstantiated.

In her statement, Ms. McKenna said the board had given three reasons for her termination: inadequately communicating with the university’s accreditors about the board, improperly providing certain information to the accreditors, and meeting with the Globe editorial board in February. She did not elaborate.

Mr. Lamb’s statement said that the university’s provost, Marisa Kelly, would serve as interim president until a new leader was chosen.

Ms. McKenna is a former federal civil-rights lawyer whose résumé includes posts in the White House, the Department of Education, and the Department of Justice. She also served as president of Lesley University for 22 years. She became president of Suffolk in July 2015, pledging to raise the university’s profile and make it more accessible to students and leaders in the city.

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