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Controversial Martin University president to retire this month

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Controversial Martin University President Algeania Freeman will retire Dec. 31 after three years at the school, officials said late Monday morning.

Former NCAA executive Charlotte Westerhaus will serve as acting president while the predominantly black university conducts a nationwide search for a new leader.

In January 2008, Freeman succeeded the Rev. Boniface Hardin,  a Benedictine monk who founded the college in 1977. By midyear, Freeman told IBJ that she already had closed a $653,000 deficit by collecting more than $450,000 in gifts and cutting the 95-person faculty 25 percent.

But her tactics drew complaints from employees who said Freeman was overly harsh and shuffled people into jobs that made little sense. Students protested after a popular professor was fired, and seven members of the university’s 16-person board of trustees resigned in 2008, including at least two who said Freeman’s methods were a factor.

Former board Secretary C. Catherine Gibson, who voted to hire Freeman, told IBJ at the time that she had urged the new president to be diplomatic, but, "I realized she was not going to listen." She left the board in July 2008.

Freeman has said she was simply doing the job the Martin board of trustees hired her to do: Cut costs and increase fundraising.

Board Chairman John Bartlett said Freeman made the decision to retire on Friday and informed the board of her decision. He would not say whether the board had asked Freeman to resign.

"She felt it was time to retire," said Bartlett, who is also a state representative from Indianapolis.

Freeman, 61, founded consulting company The Freeman Group before joining Martin and served as president of Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C., from 2001 to 2004.

Livingstone placed Freeman on leave in August 2004, according to stories in the Salisbury Post. Five months later, the school announced her resignation. Newspaper accounts at the time called it a "forced exit" and said Freeman had "set a controversial course for herself at Livingstone."

University presidents typically give notice months before their departures. Butler University’s Bobby Fong, for example, announced in October that he would leave at the end of the school year to take a job leading Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. And Adam Herbert, Indiana University’s widely criticized president, said he would leave the president’s post in 2006—more than a year before the end of his contract.

Westerhaus is the former vice president of diversity and inclusion for the Indianapolis-based NCAA. She also has worked at Purdue University, the University of Iowa and the University of Wisconsin.

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  • president
    good article
  • glad
    I am no longer at Martin, I am a graduate from there, but i am glad that Freeman is no longer there. She might have done somethings for Martin, but her attitude was not about the students nor staff only about improving Martin, when it is all in a package
  • Can't stand a strong leader/with weak followers
    I will assume that the people that was under the direction Freeman, could not stand the work ethics that takes to rebuild something that was falling apart. The school was in horrible shape and the employees acted like they were at home instead in a professional work place. Board of Directors are the supervisors/managers of the CEO/President so I'm a little confused on how the roles got switched. To the where the BOD left before the employee. SMH
  • Martin U?
    What the %^$^ is Martin U? with a 7% graduation rate it must be a joke!!! Maybe a scam?
  • whoknew
    Amen to that.........but there are others who need to get out of Martin NOW.
  • DING DONG THE WITCH IS GONE!!
    Many of the Martin University alumni who were banned from the campus by Dr. Freeman are anxiously anticipating being reunited with their beloved MU!!
  • Takeover Target for IVY Tech?
    Where is the Indiana Commission for Higher Education on these failing schools?
  • College Dropout Factories
    Washington Monthly's 2010 rankings of the 4-year public and private not-for-profit colleges in America with the worst graduation rates.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/rankings_2010/dropout_factories.php

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