When Michael Shonrock was fired as president of Lindenwood University without being given a reason last week, the board of trustees named a person who never went to college as interim president.
Arthur Johnson, a former AAA auto club executive who apparently never went to college, was named interim president Feb. 6, after Shonrock was placed on administrative leave. Shonrock was fired two days later.
Shonrock was president of Emporia State from 2012 to 2015.
“This morning we were able to get an interview with Art Johnson,” said Mitchell Kraus, editor-in-chief of Lindenlink, the student newspaper of Lindenwood, on Monday. “Basically we learned that this guy...was the president and CEO of AAA…for eight years, but he never went to college and now he’s the president.”
Johnson will be president until a search committee could find a new president for Lindenwood, according to J. Michael Conoyer, chairman of the board of trustees in a Feb. 8 statement sent to Lindenwood faculty, staff and students.
Lindenwood is a private liberal arts university in St. Charles, Missouri.
“The main issue we’re running into is being stonewalled by the university, especially the board,” Kraus said. “For the longest time we couldn’t get anything from them. We finally, this morning, got the interview with the interim president but they didn’t let me record it and the head of PR (Public Relations) was in the room the whole time.”
Lindenwood will not reveal why Shonrock was fired because it’s a personnel matter, according to Chris Duggan, of Lindenwood marketing and media relations.
“I have asked but we have not received any substantive information for the board’s action,” said Shonrock’s attorney, Jerry Dobson. Dobson is a partner at Dobson, Goldberg, Berns & Rich, LLP in St. Louis. “There is a procedure by which we can send a letter requesting the true reasons for termination. Whether we will receive anything substantive remains to be seen.”
The board meeting where Shonrock was fired was closed, according to Kraus.
“After the board meeting, we tried to get comments from anybody,” Kraus said. “We have a 22-member board and no one would tell us anything.”
There is no way to appeal the termination, according to Dobson.
“Dr. Shonrock was very popular at Lindenwood as well,” Dobson said. “We believe that he was a charismatic and successful leader for the university.”
Shonrock is not currently talking to the press, Dobson said. He did not give a reason.
“This (Shonrock’s termination) came out of the blue for us,” Kraus said. “There wasn’t any indication that there was problems until Tuesday morning...We’re really caught off guard here.
Conoyer, university board of trustees chairman, and Johnson, the interim president, did not return requests for comment. Lisa Enger, vice president of university relations at Lindenwood, also did not respond.