Complaint: President Made Offensive Comments

August 26, 2016

A newly revealed student complaint sheds light on alleged behavior coming before University of the Incarnate Word President Louis Agnese Jr.’s medical leave.

The complaint, which was antonymous, was filed shortly before Agnese went on medical leave and was written about Thursday by the San Antonio Express-News. It accused the president of making offensive comments about African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Mormons and a student with low test scores. It also says the president told jokes about alcoholism.

The comments were said to have come at a physical therapy student luncheon attended by students, faculty members and administrators. It said Agnese told an African-American student not wearing the school’s cardinal-red color she was “lucky you’re black so you are in a way wearing cardinal black,” before saying Native American students’ “Indian-red skin color would also count as wearing cardinal red,” according to the newspaper’s account. He also reportedly joked about Mormons taking over one of the university’s schools, told a Hispanic faculty member he looked “like a José” and singled out a student, telling her she was lucky to be accepted to UIW because she did not have the test scores to get into another program.

Agnese confirmed saying the comments but denied anything was wrong with them, according to the Express-News.

“I haven’t made an offensive comment in my life,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. He also said he’d complimented the student for doing well at UIW.

UIW issued a two-sentence statement from Board of Trustees Chairman Charles Lutz on Thursday that confirmed Agnese is on leave.

“The university does not condone conduct and comments that are contrary to its mission,” the statement said.

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