Regents say SSU president stays

By Dina Paluzzi

Board of Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves said Friday that Sangamon State University President Durward Long will continue his presidental duties at the university.

The statement was made in response to the announcement by seven SSU professors Tuesday who said they would file a sexual harassment charge against Long and the Regents.

Porter McNeil, of University Relations at SSU, said that since none of the allegations against Long have been proven, they have “no bearing on his presidency.”

He said that so far it is “unclear exactly what the allegations are.”

Dan Wagner, Illinois State University Student Regent, said the Regents’ retention of Long as SSU president is “a good sign that the Board can show they’re human.”

Groves said that while “this incident has caused some erosion in confidence,” Long has made many positive contributions to SSU as president.

Since Long has been president, his achievements include increased enrollment at SSU at a time when enrollment at other state universities has decreased. He also recently helped settle collective bargaining agreements with faculty at SSU before he took a 60-day medical leave of absence for treatment of alcohol abuse and extreme fatigue.

McNeil said Long has outlined “an aggressive plan against sexual harassment.”

On Tuesday, Long addressed the SSU community and apologized for the bad publicity the university has received because of his alcoholism.

Groves said Long took a step in the right direction to alleviate some of the negative publicity at SSU when he took his leave and entered one of the nation’s top rehabilitation programs.

McNeil said Long has issued several apologies for his “intemperate alcoholism” and has denied allegations of committing sexual misconduct.

Wagner said, “Alcoholism is a disease and the board treated it as such. They acted very human to a very human problem.”

He said that while he could not condone the alleged sexual misconduct, he said it has “brought an awareness” to the public about sexual harassment. “In the long run it will have a positive effect.

“In my opinion, it’s unfortunate those things happen. Every one (of the allegations) was related to alcohol,” Wagner said. “Sexual harassment is horrible to everyone, especially to the president of a university.” However, even though Long’s alcoholism and the allegations are related, Wagner said the situation still is not ethical.