A Maryland university chairman has resigned following an uproar over the former president's comments likening struggling freshmen to bunnies that should be drowned.

John Coyne said in a statement Tuesday that he stepped down seven months early to ensure a seamless process for choosing an interim president of Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

The statement from the school says the board of trustees has elected former U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive director Mary Kane to succeed Coyne.

The university says business school dean Karl Einolf will continue as acting president of the Catholic college through June.

Former president Simon Newman resigned Feb. 29. He was widely scorned by academic leaders after the student newspaper reported his comments, and the faculty voted for his resignation.