The University of the Incarnate Word’s governing board voted on Monday to remove Louis Agnese Jr. as the Roman Catholic institution’s president, effective immediately, according to mySA.com, a website of the San Antonio Express-News, and KSAT 12, an ABC affiliate in San Antonio.
The unanimous vote came less than two weeks after the board placed Mr. Agnese on a 90-day medical leave, citing concerns about his well-being after reports of “sporadic uncharacteristic behavior and comments” by the 65-year-old president. Mr. Agnese, who has been the university’s president since 1985, has disputed that his behavior has changed and has denied having said or done anything wrong.
But the controversy intensified over the past week after details from a complaint that a group of students had lodged against Mr. Agnese were leaked to news outlets. Among other allegations, the complaint said Mr. Agnese had made offensive comments about the skin color, ethnic heritage, or academic ability of several students at a luncheon on August 15.
The university did not comment on the news reports about the complaint, but the Express-News reported that it had verified that university officials received the letter before Mr. Agnese was placed on medical leave, on August 18. It said that Mr. Agnese didn’t deny making the comments but insisted they were not offensive.
In a statement last week, the chairman of university’s Board of Trustees, Charles Lutz, praised Mr. Agnese’s contributions to the university over the past three decades but said recent comments he had made were “not consistent with the traditions and values of the university and cannot be condoned.”
In a statement on Monday, Mr. Lutz announced the board’s vote to remove Mr. Agnese from office permanently but gave no explanation for that decision. He again praised Mr. Agnese’s service to the university, calling him a “transformative president” whose “legacy will be lasting.” He concluded by saying that Mr. Agnese “and his family are in our hearts and prayers.”