The University of the Incarnate Word Board of Trustees has unanimously voted Monday to fire long-time President Lou Agnese effective immediately. This comes after he was placed on a 90-day medical leave following comments that the board deemed out of character and offensive.
In a statement provided to reporters, board Chairman Charles Lutz said, “Agnese has been with UIW for 31 years and that UIW had “benefited greatly from his efforts to grow the university which is now the third largest private university in Texas.”
However, “The board voted unanimously to remove Dr. Agnese from his office as president of the university permanently and effective immediately.”
He said Dr. Denise Doyle would continue as acting president while the university conducts a national search.
Agnese arrived in 1985 from New York at the age of 33. According to the university’s website, he became one of the youngest presidents of a four-year university in the United States when he became Incarnate Word’s eighth president.
In an interview prior to the board meeting, Agnese’s long-time friend and supporter Lionel Sosa, who embarked on an early UIW marketing campaign with Agnese said, “He is a good man, very generous. He is very smart. He is bold. And he has done so much for that university. He’s brought that university from a dying institution to one of the best and healthiest universities in the country.”
Agnese's apparent trouble began after comments he made at an Aug. 15 luncheon. The San Antonio Express-News obtained an anonymous letter written by some concerned students complaining that Agnese had made "offensive comments about African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Mormons at a luncheon for physical therapy students."
He was placed on medical leave on Aug. 18. He later told the newspaper he did make the comments but that they were not offensive.
On Aug. 26, Charles Lutz, chairman of the board of the trustees, released a statement to the media in which is praised Agnese's contributions to the university.
He went on to say, "However, recent comments by Dr. Agnese are not consistent with the traditions and values of the University and cannot be condoned. Inspired by Judeo Christian valies, the Catholic Intellectal Tradition and Catholic Social Teaching, UIW's mission is to educate men and women who will become concerned and enlightened citizens of faith within the global community and who will have leaned and witnessed the importance of treating each person with respect."