the fallout at e.m.u. over the investigation into the dickinson murder

Now that the results of the investigation into Eastern Michigan University’s handling of the Dickinson murder have become public, the only question seems to be how far up the chain of command the axe will swing. There seems to be widespread consensus that Vice President of Student Affairs Jim Vick and Public Safety Director Cindy Hall will be fired, if they don’t resign first, but my friends at EMU seem split on whether or not President Fallon will be leaving with them. If he doesn’t step down first, I guess we’ll have to wait until the Board of Regents meeting on June 19 before we have an answer. My guess, as people are already pushing for the Michigan Attorney General to get involved, is that the Board will pressure Fallon to leave. I think it’s safe to assume that they don’t want this lingering. Maybe Fallon will fight it, but it seems to me that he’s in a bit of a tough spot. Either he was in the loop when it was decided to keep the on-campus murder under wraps, or he wasn’t. And, if he wasn’t, it begs the question, “Why?”

According to the Ann Arbor News, by the way, Butzel Long, the law firm handling the independent investigation for the University, has already charged EMU over $220,000 for the work they’ve done, and, by the time everything is said and done, I hear it could reach almost half a million dollars. That alone, I would think, would warrant the heads of at least a half dozen EMU officials.

I haven’t read the report yet, but apparently not only did EMU administrators neglect to warn students that there was a killer in their midst, in violation of the federal Cleary Act, but, once it became clear that there would be ramifications, they set out to shred records and cover their tracks… All of this is terrible for the University, which had already been struggling, but it could have been a lot worse. It’s worth keeping in mind that Orange Taylor, the suspect in the case, might not have stopped with the rape and murder of Laura Dickinson. With her keys (which he is thought to have taken), he could have entered the dormitory again, at any time between the murder and when he was arrested over one month later, and struck again. With that in mind, Vick, Hall, Fallon and company should consider themselves extremely lucky, regardless of whether or not they keep their jobs. They led all of us to believe that Laura died of natural causes, and, by doing so, they could have made it possible for the killer to take the life of another unsuspecting student.

More on the report and the fallout can be found at the “Ann Arbor News,” and on EMU Talk dot org. And, context, for those of you new to the story, can be found here and here.

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11 Comments

  1. egpenet
    Posted June 10, 2007 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Is there such a thing as being all blogged out about a subject? We intuited, knew, smelled, felt and chewed this thing all up months ago … and the regents could have had our assessment for free. Kudos to Butzel-Long for scoring a big-time prize for the obvious.

    What I’m worried about is Ypsilanti. We had a near-catastrophe at the High School with the former principal. The new principal, according to staff and the kids is great. A whole new tone has been set and the halls toward the end of the year were orderly and and calm. KUDOS TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION FOR THEIR CHOICE.

    City government is struggling to chart a course and give it a public name and a face; and in the meantime keeps grabbing headlines with its problems. There is a lot that’s great about Ypsilanti … but this town and the supporting institutions (Chamber/DDA/ VCB), at least in the past, could never mount a strong case for building a business or a family heree. There are thousands of reasons to invest and live here, but there is no consistent face being put forth to the outside world to tell that story/those stories. THERE WILL BE VERY SOON.

    Now comes the EMU report. Do you now see why Ypsilanti needs EMU to regain its footing as a great little university? Unlike FORD … which the City learned stands for “Forget Our Realty Deal” … EMU can’t just pick up and leave like Cleary or Ave Maria (Monohan paid taxes while he was here). We need EMU to once again be the proud, renowned, leasder in education and every other field.

    I was wondering today if we shouldn’t ask YCUA to test the water or stop the ChemLawn guys and test their chemicals; because there has been serious case of “stupid” going around in the County for more than two years, especially among key leadership, which should not be tolerated.

    Ypsi High is back on track. Water Street WILL happen and WILL be a success … Public Housing will be addressed … and the City will be OK … I am sure. But there’s a great deal to be done in every neighborhood, downtown, Depot Town and in outreach to the Townships. Now, it’s time for the Regents to literally rebuild EMU from the top on down into every department. Public Safety and campus security need a complete revamping, including detailed, written and rehearsed contingency plans for this and other easily anticipated occurences. As for effective Public Relations, which EMU obvious lacks, hire an outside professional firm that can be objective, ethical, and responsive.

    Here’s an idea: put the students first … not the salaries, not the president’s mansion, not the golf club memberships, not the win/loss records … the kids! Are they getting an education? Are they graduating prepared for their professional careers? Are they safe in your dorms, on campus sidewalks, in the off-campus neighborhoods?

    Good luck, Regents. I’ll be listening for that “sucking sound” as you clean up, hopefully way before September rolls around.

  2. Dick Cheney's Extending Taint
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    http://begthequestion.info/

    Don’t make me force you to march down Michigan Avenue in these:

    http://www.cafepress.com/begthequestion.38045148

  3. edweird
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    “Kudos to Butzel-Long for scoring a big-time prize for the obvious.”
    I second this. The only winners in these kinds of messes are always the lawyers. The obvious does not frighten them like it does most admin folk.

    “Here’s an idea: put the students first.”
    No shit. Again the obvious rears it’s head and screams. They are, after all, the customer are they not?

    EMU has been mismanaged for far too long. If some much needed sanity and a healthy dose of common sense could be brought to the place, it could very well benefit us all.

    “Water Street WILL happen and WILL be a success … “
    Now that’s just crazy talk. ;-)
    I love you egpenet. You’re an optimist.

  4. dr. teddy glass
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Assuming EMU administrators continue to act the same way, it might be in the best interests of Butzel Long to open a branch office in Ypsi. (I hear there are a few square feet still available on Water Street.)

    Maybe the industry to save our little town is University Damage Control.

  5. egpenet
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Ftrom what we’ve been given to believe in Monday’s A2 News …

    We can assume that EMU staff was hoping against hope for faster progress from the corner, police and campus security. Who else at EMU would the President have called who was a “stakeholder” in this investigation? Orange Taylor?

    The Regents have no choice due to the “public scandal” aspect to build a new administration to help clear the air … chips will fall … but the institution must be spared … despite the fact that EMU is on the hook for the Cleary Act violations … and the nice big fat legal fee from B-L.

    I personally urge the Regents to bring in a new Provost to begin building an entirely new administrative staff … top down.

  6. egpenet
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Further, depending upon the terms of employment of administration officials yet to be named, asked to resign and/or terminated by the Regents, Regents’ counsel may consider petitioning a court to award restitution to EMU of the B-L investigatory fees plus any future penalities yet to be levied against EMU via Federal prosecution under the Cleary Act. If successful, the court could determine the % share of the burden to each former administrator, plus any additional “pain and suffering” of EMU due to the scandal. I am NOT clear on the Regents’ legal standing versus employees.

    No word whether the family has grounds to consider legal recourse.

  7. mark
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Where’d you hear that, Ed? I had no idea that the administrators could be called on to pay restitution in such cases. Is there a precedent for that? If such things are possible, surely administrators would insure themselves against it somehow, right?

  8. egpenet
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    It’s me, speculating. I am NOT an attorney … but if I were the Regents, I would seek not only resignations but I’d go for some restitution of the incredible expense.

    Yes, EMU administration is probably covered by some form of insurance in the performance of their duty, etc. But the university will NOT be covered I don’t think if their negligence is found to be criminal under the Cleary statute. That would expose them I would think whether they had insurance or not.

    The only precedent for stupidity in the line of duty at a university is Larry Summers. But what he said/did was not a crime. These violations are Federal crimes.

  9. ytown
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    emichzoso
    You seemed to support EMU blindly in your earlier posts. Maybe you should have an open mind and wait for more information before making judgements!

  10. ytown
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    egpenet
    Great post!

  11. Mark H.
    Posted June 15, 2007 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Yes, the Regents should fire Fallon and other top officials who partiicpated in this cover up, and seek damages against them. These officials have harmed EMU seriously, and EMU cannot afford to retain them.

    The Regents are a new group too – they are not responsible for past failures, but they have the power to do a thorough house cleaning now.

    One of the many terrible aspects of this scandal – which was so needless and so harmful to EMU’s ability to educate- is that the many capable and ethical administrators at EMU have been tainted by the corruption at the top. These fine lower level administrators do their jobs well, and should not be saddled with the sins of Fallon, Vick, Hall, et al.

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