Margaret McKenna Removed from Presidency
Suffolk University’s Board of Trustees voted to fire former president Margaret McKenna in an emergency board meeting Thursday.
The meeting was held to discuss allegations of generous spending and verbally abusing employees – allegations brought to investigation by Suffolk’s former public relations executive George Regan, whose PR company was fired by McKenna back in February.
Suffolk’s Board Chairman Robert C. Lamb, Jr. said these allegations were “unsubstantiated,” but McKenna was removed from office nonetheless.
“I have been disheartened by the violations of basic process and the negative impact on the truly outstanding Suffolk University academic community,” McKenna said in a statement, adding that she was told she was fired for reasons including lack of communication with the board on university decisions.
After the recent decision, students of Suffolk were sent an email by Chairman Lamb subjected “Leadership Change,” which stated the removal of McKenna without reasoning, and announced Provost Marisa Kelly as the new interim president.
Kelly is the sixth head of the university in six years.
“The Board of Trustees recognizes that the selection of a new president is one of its most important responsibilities,” said Lamb. “It is integral to Suffolk’s success that we understand and embrace the opportunities and challenges ahead and present our University’s many assets and strengths to the larger academic community.”
A search for a new president will be conducted by John Brooks, who has been a Suffolk trustee since 2011.
“We are committed to ensuring that the search committee will have a broad and diverse makeup, reflecting the values of Suffolk University, and will include representatives of the board, faculty, administration, students, alumni, and broader communities,” said Lamb.
The news created shock and confusion among the students, as incoming and returning students plan to make their way back to Boston for the fall semester. An active group of alumni stated they believe this change for Suffolk is not for the better.
“We believe that the series of events that precipitated this action have threatened the integrity of Suffolk University,” said the group’s leader, Jared Cain. “We fear for the future stability of Suffolk University today.”
However, Chairman Lamb thinks differently.
“Suffolk University has fulfilled a unique and vital role in educating a diverse and talented student body for more than 100 years,” said Lamb. “Although I have only been here for a few months, I am immensely optimistic about the future of our great University and proud to work alongside all of you as we honor our mission and move forward into this bright new chapter for Suffolk.”
The turmoil with between McKenna and the board started in January when several trustees, including former chairman Andrew Meyer, tried to remove her as president and potentially hire former attorney general Martha Coakley as president.
During that time, the trustees accused McKenna of an “abrasive manner” and unauthorized spending for the university.
However, many students and staff rallied around McKenna, staging several protests which ended in a mutual agreement between McKenna and the board. The agreement stated McKenna would step down no later than fall 2017, chairman Meyer would resign by May, and new bylaws would be created for the university (an update which hadn’t been done in 21 years).