what was john fallon threatening to do?

When Eastern Michigan University President, John Fallon, was fired a few days ago, EMU Regent James Stapelton said something interesting. He said that the Board of Regents chose to fire Fallon on Saturday, instead of waiting the two days for their regularly scheduled meeting, because they felt that Fallon was about to do something that would further damage the University. Here’s a clip (thanks Ting) from the “Washington Post“:

…Board member James Stapleton said it became clear from conversations with Fallon and his attorney that Fallon was planning to take action during Monday’s scheduled board meeting that would have damaged the university. As a result, the board unanimously voted to fire him…

OK, maybe I shouldn’t encourage people to speculate, but it’s been a week since that revelation came out in the press, I’ve yet to hear an explanation, and I’m curious as to what might have been going on. What was it, I wonder, that Fallon and his lawyers were planning?

The first thing that came to my mind when I heard Stapelton’s statement was that maybe Fallon was looking to take down the board, or maybe a few other university execs, with him. Could it be possible that he had evidence that certain regents, for instance, were in on the cover-up that cost him his job?

Not only did the University act swiftly to fire Fallon prior to the meeting at which he was expected to speak, but I’m told by friends at EMU that they also changed the locks on his office door. Some have theorized that there might be a reason they didn’t let him in to clean out his desk until after an agreement had been reached between he and the board. Well, as I understand it, it was announced a few days ago that the University would not be contesting the severance stipulated in his contract. They could, I imaging, given the fact that federal laws were broken, claim that they didn’t owe him a dime, but they’ve announced that they’re going to pay him the $225,000 (one year’s salary) that his contract calls for. In exchange, one suspects, Fallon has agreed to keep mum on whatever bombshell he was going to drop at last week’s Regents’ meeting.

I don’t like to speculate, but it seems to me that what we’re seeing unfold here might be a good, old-fashioned pay-off.

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  1. egpenet
    Posted July 21, 2007 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Ahhh …

    1 – He was going to auction off his set of master keys on eBay

    2 – He was planning to pardon staff members who had been let go by the BoR

    3 – He was planning to sell the EMU baseball stadium to the Ypsilanti Liberators

    4 – He was about to announce a deal for DejaVu dancers to become EMU cheerleaders to boost football attendance

    Ah ….

    …. who cares!

  2. elvis costello
    Posted July 22, 2007 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I care! Why, you may ask? My son will be a freshman at EMU this fall. I know some of his tuition will go to pay off this fiasco, and it really pisses me off. Why is it that Fallon, Vick, and Hall get severance, when most employees, including me, if we broke the law in such a way would be shown the door? I think you are right Mark, once again, EMU is covering their collective asses as much as possible, much like the President House. Hush money sounds just about right…

  3. UBU
    Posted July 22, 2007 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Clearly he was going to shave his balls…

  4. mark
    Posted July 22, 2007 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    A friend who teaches at EMU suggested last night that I might be reading more into all of this than necessary. He thinks the thing Fallon was threatening to do wasn’t necessarily implicate others, but just refuse to go away quietly. Maybe the board had given Fallon the option of resignation, and he indicated that he was going to fight to keep his job. I guess that’s possible.

  5. Mark H.
    Posted July 22, 2007 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know what Fallon was alluding to – he may still sue EMU, but he’s a man without a case. He impressed many of us at EMU as being a stuffed shirt with not much between his ears (as Margaret Thatcher said of her pal Ronald Reagan). He was blowing smoke, that’s my best guess, and he will not hesitate to damage EMU’s reputation for his ego gratification.

    Because the board fired him, rather than reaching an agreement with him to leave, I think the Board has more room to take legal actions against him, if they wish to. I believe he was asked to resign, and refused, and then refused to negotiate the usual “neither side sues the other or says bad things about the other” parting agreement of the over paid failed administrator class.

    It’s a shame – Fallon had great manners and a nice personality. Just no command of details and no moral courage. He was controlled from his first weeks on the job by the likes of Jim Vick, and that was his downfall.

  6. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 22, 2007 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps Stapelton had a poor choice of words, but that some regent’s voted to fire Fallon because he was about to say something, “that would damage the university,” sounds like another cover up.

    The impression is there’s something going on in the dark corners that only a select few are privy too.

    The regent’s are heralding a new era of transparency while (seemingly) paying-off someone who might say something uncomfortable. It reduces my confidence in the regents.

    If there’s nothing to hide but baseless accusations, why hide it? Are they afraid the media will whip it into more than it is? Sounds familiar. (Let he without sin cast the first pink slip.)

    I agree with Elvis C. I’m tired of a world where folks of a certain pedigree have their secret handshakes and buy-outs. If Fallon doesn’t deserve his quarter-of-a-million then cut him off cold and deal with whatever mud he slings.

    And, if Fallon never says what he promised to say, I guess that will set the price-tag dangling from his moral courage.

    I’d rather the regent’s spend half a million battling Fallon in court and press, if he’s culpable, then pay him and accomplices to go quietly.

  7. egpenet
    Posted July 22, 2007 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I would still have made the case with the BoR that the EMU “executive” staff negligence policy does NOT cover gross negligence/criminal behavior and that EMU owed these people zip, zero, zilch.

    Why does everyone like to play nice-nice, these days?

    Same at the city. People ask, “What are the numbers for the budget?” City says: “Blah, blah.” People say: “OK. Thanks.” Oh, really?

    Come to find out, it’s NOT what the budget is, it’s what are we spending … that we CANNOT afford to spend! No one is asking that question and/or getting the answer.

    My headache is coming back. Poop!

  8. Steph
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Now we know what he was threatening to do. He was going to implicate the Board. This is from today’s Ann Arbor news.


    Fired Eastern Michigan University President John Fallon said Tuesday that he took a polygraph test to prove he didn’t know a student’s death was being investigated as a rape and homicide until two months later when another student was arrested.

    His attorney issued a challenge to all members of the EMU Board of Regents to do the same.

    During a nearly three-hour interview with The News Tuesday, Fallon admitted he could have done more during the investigation into 22-year-old Laura Dickinson’s death, but said he treated it the same as other on-campus deaths during his tenure as the president of three different universities…

    Fallon has long maintained that he relied solely on Vick for updates in the case. He said Tuesday that he had no reason not to trust Vick was telling him the truth and said Vick made it clear to him on Dec. 15, the night Dickinson’s body was found, that foul play was not suspected.

    The next day, Fallon was involved in crafting the “no foul play” statement that was posted on EMU’s Web site that day. He said that statement was based on what Vick told him.

    “I felt we owed the campus community some communication,” Fallon said.

    Fallon said he was told Dickinson was naked from the waist down – but that fact alone did not raise a red flag because she lived alone and could have been partially clothed for many reasons. He said he didn’t learn about the pillow found over her head or the semen on her leg until those details were published in the newspaper after the Feb. 23 arrest of Orange Taylor III…

    Faupel said she would be “really interested” to see the regents take a similar polygraph test to determine what they knew when.

    EMU regents Chairman Tom Sidlik said Tuesday that he first heard it from Fallon that Dickinson’s death was being investigated as a homicide.

    “If the question is did the regents know before John, the answer is no,” Sidlik said. He declined to comment on Faupel’s challenge to board members to take a polygraph test. Roy Wilbanks, vice chairman of the board, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

  9. Jim
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    The most interesting part of the article was the sidebar:

    Fallon interview

    Other points made by Fallon in his interview with The News:

    • The Board of Regents ignored his personnel recommendations in the wake of Laura Dickinson’s death. Three people, including Fallon, lost their jobs and a fourth was reprimanded. Fallon said his recommendation would have expanded that number.

    • His relationship with the regents turned sour shortly after he was hired in 2005, sparked in part, by attempts to prevent his wife, Sidney, from working. “I never felt I had their support,” he said.

    • Thomas Sidlik, chairman of the regents, emphatically told him the faculty only should receive a pay raise of 2 percent and that, in part, shaped Fallon’s negotiating strategy with the 689-member union. EMU and the faculty eventually agreed to a four-year pact that includes annual raises ranging from 3.5 percent to about 4 percent.

    • EMU’s regents regularly violated the state’s Open Meetings Act by holding conference calls with him on matters that were publicly voted upon later. (The News filed a Freedom of Information Act request Tuesday afternoon seeking access to phone records detailing conference calls among regents and Fallon.)

    • Developing a budget for fiscal year 2007-08 was “pretty much a nightmare” because of micromanaging by a number of regents. Fallon said he received “blow back” from regents when he tried to direct more money to academics instead of athletics and was told “the deal was in place.” Said Fallon: “I was scolded unmercifully.”

  10. Steph
    Posted August 10, 2007 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    The board planned “public humiliation”


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