University President, 2 Administrators Fired for Alleged Cover-Up of Student's Rape, Slay

Three Eastern Michigan University administrators, including President John Fallon, have been forced out of their jobs, months after top school officials were accused of covering up the rape and slaying of a student by publicly ruling out foul play.

Fallon was fired, and Vice President of Student Affairs Jim Vick and Public Safety Director Cindy Hall no longer work at the 23,500-student public university, Board of Regents Chairman Thomas Sidlik said Monday.

Sidlik also said the board would put a letter of discipline in the file of university legal counsel Kenneth McKanders.

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The university still could face fines from the U.S. Department of Education up to $27,500 per violation under the Clery Act, the federal law under which the investigation began, lawyer Richard Hewlett told Hewlett is a partner in the Detroit, Mich.- based law firm Butzel Long that led a private investigation into the unversity's practices.

Hewlett and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan said the Clery Act does not provide for criminal violations, so no one can be charged under the act. Hewlett added that no one can be sued for violating the Clery Act, which requires safety and security information disclosure by any university participating in federal financial aid programs.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office told she did not know if there were any other violations in the case beyond the Clery Act that were being considered. And a spokesman for the Michigan Attorney General's Office said he was "unaware that anything that has made it to our office in connection with EMU."

The body of the slain student, Laura Dickinson, 22, was discovered Dec. 15 in her dorm room. At the time, university officials told her parents and the media that she died of asphyxiation but that there was no sign of foul play, despite evidence to the contrary.

It was not until another Eastern student was arrested in late February and charged with murder that her family and fellow students learned she had been raped and killed.

Also on Monday, the board appointed Provost Donald Loppnow as executive vice president. In that dual role, Loppnow will serve as the school's chief executive until an interim president is selected.

James Stapleton, a board member, said it became clear from conversations with Fallon and his attorney that Fallon was planning to take an action during Monday's scheduled board meeting that would damage the university.

As a result, the board unanimously voted to fire Fallon.

Fallon told The Ann Arbor News that his termination letter was delivered Sunday night and did not state a reason for his firing.

"As a citizen, I am disappointed in this hastily called meeting, without any opportunity to be present or to respond," Fallon told the newspaper. "I have a story to tell and intend to tell it."

Fallon's salary was $225,000 a year. His contract was to run until July 2010, according to university spokesman Ward Mullens. It was not immediately clear what the terms of Fallon's separation would be, including how much the university might owe him.

The president's dismissal follows an independent law firm investigation and U.S. Department of Education report, both of which found that Eastern Michigan violated the federal Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to disclose campus security information.

Another board member, Ismael Ahmed, said many board members were losing confidence in Fallon's ability to lead.

"We had ongoing discussions and tried to take other action first, but it got to the point that this was the only possible action," Ahmed said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.