College Station, Texas Texas A&M University named an interim president Monday, a day after the school’s first female and first Hispanic president stepped down following a scathing performance review of her first year on the job.
The A&M System board of regents quickly approved Elsa Murano’s resignation and approved A&M administrator Bowen Loftin as interim president during a crowded and brief special meeting. Regents had called the meeting last week to discuss Murano, before she resigned on Sunday.
Murano held the post for just 17 months after succeeding Robert Gates, who left to become U.S. secretary of defense. A feud between Murano and the regents peaked this month after the university gave her low marks for leadership and management in an unflattering review.
Regents chairman Morris Foster deflected specific questions about Murano after the meeting. About 50 students and faculty members who gathered in protest — some wearing black armbands — worried the turmoil would harm the university’s vision and national reputation.
Foster said it was a tough situation he’d rather not have gone through but that A&M would endure.
“All I’d ask you to do is wait and see,” he said. “Don’t ask me to speculate right now.”
Murano, 49, did not attend the meeting and declined to comment through her spokesman. Her attorney, Darryl Carter, released a statement that said Murano “was committed to a quick and constructive resolution of the matter.”
Foster said he hopes to name Murano’s permanent successor within six months. Until then, the 48,000-student university will be led by Loftin, the vice president and chief executive officer at A&M’s campus in Galveston.
Murano will return to the faculty under an agreement reached with the university. She will take a year off while collecting her salary of $425,000 and will be paid an additional $295,000.