On Aug. 18, University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) Board Chair Charles Lutz released a statement saying that the university’s 31-year President Lou Agnese Jr. was placed on a 90-day medical leave after exhibiting “sporadic uncharacteristic behavior and comments” with students, faculty, and administrative staff.
Agnese defied the board’s decision to place him on a 90-day medical leave due to reverse discrimination charges against him, and told the Express-News in an interview that he was not on medical leave and intended to “sue the pants” off Lutz and the board unless the press release was retracted and he was allowed to return from a Hawaii vacation to assume his regular duties after some further time off.
(Read More: UIW Showdown Between President and Chair Imminent)
The university initially declined further comment on the nature of Agnese’s unusual behavior or specific medical concerns, but the UIW board was forced to break its silence following a series of stories written by Express-News investigative reporter John Tedesco that outlined disturbing racial remarks Agnese had directed at students during a luncheon.
In a statement Friday, Lutz said “recent comments by Dr. Agnese are not consistent with the traditions and values of the University and cannot be condoned.”
Tedesco, a UIW graduate and former editor of the school newspaper, who himself was the target of Agnese’s wrath many years ago, based his stories on conversations with Agnese and members of the university community as well as a letter by upset students that detailed the string of offensive racial comments.
Perhaps most remarkable is the contrast between Agnese’s expletive-riddled comments to the Express-News and the school’s eight-day silence on the issue as university spokesperson Debra Del Toro refuses to release any information.
While Agnese’s fate looks unpromising, Lutz refrained from confirming any decision yet.
“Dr. Denise Doyle is serving as Acting President and the Board fully supports her,” the statement says. “The Executive Committee of the Board will make a recommendation on this matter to the full Board on Monday.”
Image ©John Branch for the Rivard Report, 2016.