By Michael B. Murphy
Former Framingham State University President Timothy Flanagan, who abruptly resigned from his post at Illinois State University on Saturday, has been charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, according to the McLean County State’s Attorney Jason Chambers.
The charge – a Class C misdemeanor – stems from an alleged altercation between Flanagan and R. Patrick Murphy, a former ISU superintendent of grounds maintenance.
In a complaint filed with the ISU police department on Feb. 28, Murphy alleged that on Dec. 5, 2013, Flanagan confronted him while he and other grounds crew members were aerating the lawn of Flanagan’s University-owned presidential home.
Chambers said in a statement Tuesday that Flanagan “yelled insults at the employee and continued to do so even while inches away from his face and Railing his arms around in a manner which alarmed and disturbed [Murphy].”
In his complaint, Murphy claimed Flanagan, who was president of FSU for seven years until he left in May 2013, struck him in the torso. Murphy also claimed he was hit in the face, neck and clothing by Flanagan’s spittle as he was being yelled at.
Murphy, who had been an employee of ISU since July 2013, was fired from his position on Dec. 10 2013 – five days after the alleged assault took place. (Editor’s Note: for more on the alleged assault, check the March 7, 2014 issue of The Gatepost.)
According to Illinois-based newspaper The Pantagraph, Murphy said he had filed complaints regarding the incident with ISU’s Executive Director of Facilities Management, Chuck Scott, as well as the ISU’s Board of Trustees, but that he never heard back from them.
In a statement made on Tuesday, Stephanie Wong, Flanagan’s attorney, said, “Based on my earlier review of the investigation, I remain confident that Dr. Flanagan did not commit any offenses.” Flanagan has previously denied the allegations.
Though Flanagan has not been arrested, he has been ordered to appear in court on April 23. If convicted, Flanagan could face up to 30 days in jail and up to $1,500 in fines.
According to the Illinois State law, disorderly conduct is defined as “any act in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace.”
The charge of disorderly conduct against Flanagan came just three days after he abruptly resigned from the ISU presidency on Saturday, March 22, which was announced during a special session held by the ISU Board of Trustees. Flanagan’s resignation came just a day after the ISU police department concluded its investigation and forwarded it to the state’s attorney’s office.
Flanagan’s resignation, which took effect immediately, was accepted by the ISU Board of Trustees at the Saturday morning special session. Larry Dietz, ISU’s vice president of student affairs, was appointed to the presidency of ISU during the same special session. Dietz accepted the job.
Before the special session began, ISU’s Board Chairman Michael McCuskey was asked by The Pantagraph if the meeting was being held to discuss Flanagan. McCuskey declined to comment but said Flanagan would not be present for the special session.
“He has some personal matters and he told us he will not be there,” McCuskey told The Pantagraph.
A similar response was given by Dietz when Flanagan recently failed to appear at two Illinois Statehouse committee hearings where he was expected to lobby for ISU funding, according to The Southern Illinoisan newspaper.
Flanagan will be allowed to live in the University-owned presidential home until May 31, according to The Pantagraph. Flanagan will be given a lump sum severance pay of $480,415 – the remainder of his salary for this year and the second year of his three-year contract with ISU.
Flanagan, in an official statement regarding his resignation, said, “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.”
While neither Flanagan nor the ISU Board of Trustees offered a reason for the resignation, rumors began to circulate on Friday, March 21, that Flanagan would be dismissed as president at the Saturday special session.
A Gatepost reporter was contacted on Friday via email by an ISU worker who claimed he was told by an employee in the president’s office that Flanagan would allegedly be dismissed from his presidency during an “emergency meeting” of the ISU Board of Trustees’ on Saturday.
FSU’s Director of Communications, Dan Magazu, said the University has “no comment” regarding Flanagan’s resignation and charge.
Assistant Professor of Economics and Business Administration Louis Farina said, “What bothers me about this is the collateral damage to other people, FSU, ISU and the taxpayers of Illinois.”
FSU alumnus Larnel Jones said, “I am stunned. This is unexpected, especially coming from a college president.”
Nadia Hamdan, a junior criminology major, said, “I’m not surprised by his alleged behavior, because oftentimes, people in power feel like they need to aggressively assert their dominance. ... I hope his personal issues haven’t changed anyone’s views on our school in a negative way.”