The chair of Morgan State University's Board of Regents said the university has been "severely compromised" under the leadership of President David J. Wilson and is "significantly more vulnerable" to "legal liability and political embarrassment."
Board chair Dallas R. Evans wrote in a memo to regents Thursday that he believed the board erred by proposing late last month to draft a new one-year contract for Wilson, weeks after voting to not extend Wilson's contract after the end of the current academic year.
"He does not provide the inspiring and insightful leadership the University requires nor has he created a clear and consistent vision for the campus," Evans wrote to board members in a confidential memo obtained by The Baltimore Sun. The memo provides the first detailed explanation of the rationale behind the board's 8-7 decision to not renew Wilson's contract.
Evans did not respond to a request for comment; university sources confirmed that Evans had sent the memo.
Evans also accused Wilson of siding with the state in a federal lawsuit that was filed against the Maryland Higher Education Commission by a coalition of alumni from the state's historically black colleges and universities. Wilson told The Sun in the fall that university lawyers had advised him to not take a position on the suit.
Wilson, who has led the university for the past 21/2 years, declined Friday to respond to specific allegations in the memo. When asked about the allegation regarding the suit, Wilson said, "My record speaks for itself."
"I have been a consistent advocate for resources for Morgan State University to achieve its mission and I stand behind my record," he said.
Students, faculty members and alumni have rallied to support Wilson since the board voted in early December not to renew his contract. Campus leaders and community members applauded the 10-year plan that Wilson drafted for the Northeast Baltimore university and said they thought Wilson had charted a strong course for the university.
In his memo, Evans blames Wilson for the "turmoil that has beset the Morgan community over the last four weeks," saying he had "sufficient reason to believe that Dr. Wilson was involved in its orchestration."
During the Dec. 28 vote in which the regents decided to extend Wilson's contract by a year, Evans was the lone regent who voted against the measure.
The memo also alleges that Wilson failed to provide the board information about the "environmental condition of campus buildings," reversed his own decision affecting faculty under consideration for tenure, and had announced plans to replace several high-ranking administrators and to seek to remove regents who had served on the board for decades. Evans accuses Wilson of seeking several positions, including a White House post, without alerting the board in advance.
Wilson became president of Morgan in 2010 after the retirement of Earl S. Richardson, who had led the campus for more than a quarter of a century.
Evans, the owner of a Washington-based construction company, has chaired the board since 1991.
University sources said the board is expected to hold a special session Thursday afternoon. It was unclear what the focus of that session might be.