President Fired After Drunk Driving Charges

U. of Mary Washington chief is out of office less than a year after taking the position.
May 1, 2007

The University of Mary Washington's board unanimously decided late Monday to fire its president, William J. Frawley, who had been on paid leave since being charged with two DUI's on April 11. For the nearly three weeks of "deliberation," many students and faculty members at the Virginia institution had felt in the dark about Frawley's status as well as the board's intent.

The termination is "for cause," per Frawley's contract, which means that his pay will stop immediately. He became president in July.

Members of the Faculty Senate had previously expressed a desire to defer any judgment until all the facts were made available, but the university's statement yesterday did not clarify any of the questions that had been on the minds of many on campus, such as Frawley's mental state during the twin driving incidents last month and his oblique reference afterwards to a "heretofore undetected, and potentially very serious, heart disorder." His actions, Frawley stated last month, were "highly unusual and totally out of character for me."

There didn't seem to be a consensus among faculty members about whether Frawley should be allowed to remain. A letter to the board of visitors from two faculty leaders was taken by some to be an endorsement of Frawley, but that implication provoked a backlash from other professors, including the authors themselves, who said their intent was misrepresented in the press.

Among students, there was some confusion as well, especially about the reasons for the delay. "A lot of people think it’s funny, and it is really ridiculous," Elizabeth Nowrouz, a Mary Washington sophomore who is the associate editor of the campus newspaper The Bullet, said last week.

Richard Hurley, the university's vice president for administration and finance, has been the interim president since last month, and a spokeswoman said that details about a presidential search weren't finalized. There will be a board retreat this summer at which the issue will likely be discussed.

Bob Rycroft, an economics professor at the university and a member of the Faculty Senate, said last week: "There is a personal tragedy here and I think we’re all supportive of the president in that regard."


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