Suffolk University Trustees Fire President Margaret McKenna

McKenna has vowed to challenge their decision.

Photo via iStock/Appalachian Views

Photo via iStock/Appalachian Views

Suffolk University and its first female president have parted ways earlier than anticipated, following a tempestuous year for the downtown school that began with trustees unsuccessfully trying to replace her with former Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Trustees called an emergency meeting Thursday morning in light of an investigation performed by former PR executive George Regan, which alleged President Margaret McKenna had poorly managed the school’s money while verbally berating employees.

“I fought a good fight against entrenched interests and a board that did not understand university governance,” McKenna said in a statement to the Globe. “I have been disheartened by the violations of basic process and the negative impact on the truly outstanding Suffolk University academic community.”

In a Facebook post, Suffolk announced it had named Provost Marisa Kelly its acting president—the school’s sixth president in as many years, including interim appointments—while John Brooks, a Suffolk trustee and managing director of a life sciences consulting firm, would head the presidential search committee.

“The Board of Trustees recognizes that the selection of a new president is one of its most important responsibilities,” said Robert C. Lamb, Jr., chair of the board of trustees. “When I was elected chair of the Board in May, I understood this would be an early and critical assignment. It is integral to Suffolk’s success that we understand and embrace the opportunities and challenges ahead and present our University’s many assets and strengths to the larger academic community.”

The sudden departure of McKenna, who had reached a deal with trustees in February to leave in 2017, irked a group of alumni who had mounted a public campaign to keep her in place.

“We believe that the series of events that precipitated this action have threatened the integrity of Suffolk University,” Jared Cain, the group’s leader told the Globe. “We fear for the future stability of Suffolk University today.”