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updated: 3/22/2014 3:41 PM

ISU President Flanagan resigns amid assault claim

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Associated Press

NORMAL-- llinois State University President Timothy Flanagan resigned Saturday after just seven months in the job.

Authorities are investigating a claim that Flanagan hit a former campus employee during an argument.

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Flanagan stepped down during a special Board of Trustees meeting. The resignation took effect immediately, and Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Dietz was named to replace him, according to a university statement.

"I appreciate the experience of working with the students, faculty, staff and alumni of Illinois State, but, after discussion with the board, I have decided it would be best that I pursue other opportunities," Flanagan said in brief remarks included in the university statement.

Board Chairman Michael McCuskey said board members thanked Flanagan for his service and wished him well in the future.

The statement made no reference to the police complaint, and ISU Chief of Staff Jay Groves said the university would have no further comment.

The complaint against Flanagan accuses him of assaulting a former employee while complaining about the care of the lawn at the university-owned president's residence.

Then-superintendent of grounds R. Patrick Murphy claimed that Flanagan's saliva hit him in the face, that Flanagan's arm hit his torso and that Flanagan yelled at him on Dec. 5 outside the home, according to a police report.

Murphy told police he was supervising a crew working on the lawn when Flanagan ran out of the house and complained about the work.

The university's police department has forwarded its reports to the McLean County State's attorney's office, according to The Pantagraph in Bloomington. Prosecutor Jason Chambers plans to call for a special prosecutor to review the files to avoid a potential conflict of interest since a member of Chambers' family works at the university, the newspaper reported.

According to The Pantagraph, Flanagan has denied wrongdoing.

A publicly listed phone number for Flanagan could not be found and he couldn't be reached for comment Saturday on the allegations. His attorney did not immediately return a message.

Flanagan, formerly president of Framingham State University in Massachusetts, was appointed in May 2013 to replace Al Bowman, who left after a decade as ISU president. Flanagan took up his duties on Aug. 15 with a three-year contract that included an annual salary of $350,000 plus benefits, according to The Pantagraph.

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