UIW Ousts Longtime President After Weird Comments About Black, Native American Students' Skin Color

click to enlarge University of the Incarnate Word was on lockdown tonight due to reports of a gunman on campus. - Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
University of the Incarnate Word was on lockdown tonight due to reports of a gunman on campus.
It's been a strange start to the school year for the University of Incarnate Word community. Earlier this month, the school unexpectedly put Louis Agnese Jr. on a 90-day medical leave—evidently without telling him, which led to the longtime university president's expletive-filled reaction in the San Antonio-Express News. When the dust briefly settled and tempers cooled, Agnese, who led UIW for more than 30 years and is largely credited with turning the small Catholic school into one of the city's leading universities, announced he'd come to an understanding with school officials. 

Apparently not. Late last week, the Express-News got ahold of an anonymous complaint that Agnese had made a series of bizarre race-based jokes to students and faculty on campus earlier this month. Public condemnation led to swift action by the university's board of trustees, which on Monday voted unanimously to fire Agnese and start a national search for his replacement. 

Naturally, there are a lot of questions in the wake Agnese's abrupt, forced exit from the school. Some who came to his defense after UIW placed him on medical leave blamed his troubles on allegations of reverse discrimination coming from some faculty. The Rivard Report, for instance, wrote that Jesus Rangel, a former UIW board member and decades-long friend of Agnese, said this of Agnese's current troubles: "The conflict is over a group of faculty complaining to Dr. Agnese that he favors Hispanic and African-American faculty and administrators over non-Hispanic and non-black ones. Agnese rejected that.” 

Even if that's more of an excuse than anything, the way UIW handled Agnese's firing seems anything but normal. Why would the university blame Agnese's jokes about black, Native American, Hispanic and Indian students and faculty on a medical problem? Why would the university say Agnese has a medical problem when, at least according to him, he doesn't? What of this complaint from at least some faculty about reverse-discrimination from the president? What would the board have done if that anonymous complaint hadn't been leaked to the daily? 

Naturally, the board chair, Agnese's office, and apparently every other university official are still keeping relatively quiet on the matter. Neither UIW officials nor Agnese could be reached for comment Monday night. In a prepared statement after the board's vote Monday, UIW board chairman Charles Lutz thanked Agnese for his decades of service to the university. He added:
"However, the Board today voted unanimously to remove Dr. Agnese from the office of President of the University permanently, effective immediately. His 90-day leave continues. Dr. Denise Doyle, who the Board appointed as Acting President when Dr. Agnese was placed on medical leave, will continue in that role with our full confidence. The Board will begin a national search for a new President.

Dr. Agnese's leadership has played a critical role in UIW's 130-year journey and his legacy will be lasting. 

He and his family are in our hearts and prayers." 

Well that certainly clears things up. 


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