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Lyon College President resigns, interim named

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 2:00 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 11:04 PM CDT
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BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - The Lyon College of Board of Trustees has accepted the resignation of President W. Joseph King, effective immediately following comments made in a publication.

According to a media release from Lyon College Board Chairman Perry L. Wilson, the board accepted the resignation Thursday.

Wilson said Provost Melissa Taverner would serve as interim president, adding that “she is passionate about the College’s mission and is ready to continue our most important work, which is providing an excellent liberal arts education to our students to prepare them for their futures.”

Several civic leaders say they were “disappointed and shocked” by comments the former Lyon College president recently made and urged the board of trustees to fire him.

Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh, Independence County Judge Robert Griffin, and Crystal Johnson, CEO of the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce, sent the open letter to Wilson ahead of Thursday’s meeting.

King came under fire earlier this week following comments he made in the Chronicle of Higher Education, claiming Batesville was a town full of white supremacists.

He even went so far as to claim thousands of hostile Trump supporters held a rally last fall and vandalized his campus home.

Batesville Police Chief Alan Cockrill told Region 8 News that the rally and the alleged vandalism never happened.

“Dr. King’s inaccurate portrayal of the community and later comments about the State of Arkansas have resulted in overwhelming disdain for his role as a leader in this community and shattered confidence in his ability to represent and lead Lyon College,” the letter stated.

While they said the community at large still supports and cares for the college’s faculty, staff and students, they said: “confidence in the current administration has been lost and partnerships are irreparable.”

Elumbaugh, Griffin, and Johnson stated they had received numerous phone calls and messages from constituents and neighbors demanding action.

“We all join together, united, to urge the board of trustees to terminate the employment of W. Joseph King so this community, its leaders, and Lyon College can move forward in unity,” they concluded.

Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh, Independence County Judge Robert Griffin, and Crystal Johnson,...
Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh, Independence County Judge Robert Griffin, and Crystal Johnson, CEO of the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce, sent the open letter to the board chairperson, Perry Wilson, ahead of Thursday’s meeting.(Independence Co. Judge Robert Griffin)

To read the open letter, click here.

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