It does seem to not pass the smell test, to have a guy who appointed several members of the existing board get appointed by that board to a plum position. That said, exactly how much power over the *academic life* of a big state uni (let alone a small private slac) does a president have these days, anyhow?
The president is the advocate for the university in front of the Regents. If a tuition increase will stave off financial catastrophe, it's the president who has to make that case. You may still be free to research what you want as an academic, but you had to decide whether or not you can do it in the face of deep pay cuts and/or furloughs because the president folded like a deck chair in front of the Board.