Mysterious Departures at Andrews U.

March 9, 2006

The president and two other top administrators at Michigan’s Andrews University resigned this week, and just about everyone else on the campus remains in the dark about why.

Niels-Erik Andreasen, the president, Patricia B. Mutch, vice president for academic administration, and Edward E. Wines, vice president for financial administration, all provided written notice of their decisions to an executive session of the university’s Board of Trustees on Monday.

Andreasen’s resignation was effective immediately, but he accepted a request from Gerry Karst, the board’s chairman, to carry on his responsibilities at the university until the trustees find a successor. Mutch and Wines plan to stay in their jobs through June 30.

A news release from Andrews’s office of university relations provides the only official explanation. “The Board felt that the University needed to explore the opportunities that would be offered by new leadership and the ability it would provide to implement a new strategic direction that fulfills the mission and vision of the University,” the statement reads.

Just what that direction is and how the administrators veered off that path were not outlined in the statement.

“We’re all asking about that,” said Rebecca May, director of university relations. “We’re all hoping to get further enlightened to what the board means by that.”

It is also unclear who initiated the resignation process and what the news means for the university in the immediate future. Andrews, a Seventh-day Adventist university, has about 3,000 students and 300 faculty members.

The university’s statement said that the board accepted the resignations “with regret.”

“These are people who have invested their time and talents into the school,” May said. Andreasen has been president of the university since 1994. Mutch has been in her current job since 1998, and Wines in his since 1985, according to May.

When reached Wednesday, Andreasen declined to comment on his resignation. Mutch and Wines could not be reached for comment.

Geoff Isaak, a member of the Faculty and Staff Senate who works in the office of development, dismissed wrongdoing by the administrators as a possible reason for the resignations.

“All three of them are of the highest integrity,” Isaak said. “There was nothing scandalous here.”

More clarity might come Thursday, when the Board of Trustees is scheduled to brief administration, faculty, staff and students on campus. Walter Wright, the board’s vice chair, declined to expand on the official announcement.

Faculty members were notified of the resignations on Monday afternoon. The Faculty and Staff Senate is scheduled to meet next week to discuss the issue.

Trevor O’Reggio, a member of the senate, said the news “was a great surprise to most of the people I spoke with. These were unprecedented moves. I don’t recall such a drastic measure being taken.” 

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