Eastern Michigan U. president fired after campus crime report released

MICHIGAN — The president of Eastern Michigan University has been dismissed after an alleged homicide cover-up that received national attention.

The Eastern Michigan Board of Regents held a special meeting today, during which the eight regents unanimously voted to fire President John Fallon, according to a statement on the university Web site.

The statement did not give a reason for Fallon’s termination, but it follows a controversy involving the university’s handling of information after the body of 22-year-old Laura Dickinson was discovered in her dorm room in December 2006, according to media reports.

The university issued releases in December stating that “there was no reason to suspect foul play” in the woman’s death, but police had evidence to the contrary.

Ten weeks after Dickinson’s body was found, police arrested Orange Taylor III, another EMU student, on charges of homicide, two counts of sexual criminal conduct, larceny and home invasion in connection with Dickinson’s death.

Fallon has maintained that he did not know Dickinson’s death was considered a homicide until Taylor was arrested Feb. 23, according to a Monday article in the Michigan Ann Arbor News.

“As a citizen, I am disappointed in this hastily called meeting, without any opportunity to be present or to respond,” Fallon, 60, told The News on Sunday night. “I have a story to tell, and intend to tell it.”

In a report released July 3, the U.S. Department of Education determined that Eastern Michigan administrators failed on seven counts to meet the requirements of the federal Jeanne Clery Act, which requires public universities that receive federal funding to report crime statistics.

With an enrollment of about 23,000, the public university could be fined up to $27,500 for each violation of the act or lose some or all of its more than $108 million in annual federal student aid.

Fallon’s termination, which comes two years into his five-year contract, was announced one month after the Eastern Michigan Faculty Council issued a no-confidence vote against him.

During the meeting, the board named Don Loppnow, provost and vice president for academic affairs, interim president. Also during the meeting, the board voted unanimously “to accept the separations” of Jim Vick, vice president of student affairs, and Cindy Hall, director of Eastern Michigan’s Department of Public Safety — both administrators involved in the homicide investigation.

Finally, the board voted on the university’s budget. The budget for facility security enhancements and training will be increased, according to the university statement.

“[Eastern Michigan] is also demonstrating its commitment to campus safety and security by making it the highest priority for strategic funding,” the statement said.