It wasn’t long ago that students had yet to form any real opinion on former Illinois State President Tim Flanagan. Most would agree that Flanagan had been nearly invisible his first few months as president, making it nearly impossible to make a judgment.
It wasn’t until Flanagan’s resignation and the $480,000 that he received did he become essentially the most universally disliked person in central Illinois, or at least on this campus.
It’s only natural that students and the community would be both confused and angry about how Flanagan’s resignation was handled and its high cost. While the sum of money is of course important, I feel that the outcry surrounding it has drowned out what is an even greater issue, which is the total lack of information that has been released regarding nearly everything about Flanagan’s resignation.
The students that pay thousands of dollars to attend this University, as well as the surrounding community members that support this institution, are entitled to more information. Yet we have been completely left in the dark regarding almost every detail related to the resignation. At least to me, this is the most frustrating aspect of the entire fiasco.
For example, the account of the altercation between R. Patrick Murphy and Flanagan has been incredibly vague. What exactly, if anything, caused Flanagan to get so upset with Murphy? Was it an actual assault or a heated argument? The Pantagraph reported that “Murphy has alleged that Flanagan’s arms touched his torso,” but such wording doesn’t illuminate in any way what actually happened. That could imply that he simply touched him or that he struck him. There’s no way of knowing and we are left to make assumptions.
Assuming that Flanagan did actually attack Murphy, does Flanagan have a history of violence? If so, why didn’t the firm, that was paid nearly $100,000 to find Flanagan, know about it? Or did the man simply have a drastic character shift upon arriving at Normal?
I’m not defending Flanagan, but there are so few facts that it’s hard to make sense of the 18th president we barely knew. Was he committing any other unscrupulous acts that we don’t know about? Why wasn’t he attending meetings with the state legislature in Springfield? There have been no answers to any of these questions.
The Board of Trustees have told us that Flanagan was just not a “good fit” but still a decent guy, while other accounts would have us believe the opposite regarding that latter bit. I have no idea what to believe, but given how much we invested in Flanagan, it’s hard to believe after such a short period of time he was simply not a “good fit.”
The buyout of nearly half a million dollars is frustrating, but unfortunately relatively standard in resignations. That money is gone, and no amount of outcry or protest will change that. Due to the agreement with Flanagan to not disclose information regarding his resignation, we likely will never have answers either. It is that lack of answers in which students and the community are the recipients of the most disservice, as we are simply left to speculation and rumors. We deserve better than that.
Nick Ulferts is a junior English education major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding his column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org