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A Second Lindenwood University President Goes On Leave

The Lindenwood University board of trustees voted Friday to fire university system president Michael Shonrock (left).In this 2015 photo, Shonrock is shaking hands with Brett Barger, who was the president of Lindenwood University-Belleville until Jan. 22.
File photo | Belleville News-Democrat
Lindenwood University System president Michael Shonrock (left) was placed on paid administrative leave Tuesday. In this 2015 photo, he is shaking hands with Brett Barger, who was the president of Lindenwood University-Belleville until Jan. 22.

Two weeks after the president of Lindenwood University-Belleville officially left his post after going on administrative leave, the president of St. Charles, Mo.-based Lindenwood University System has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Michael Shonrock told the university’s student publication Lindenlink that he was placed on leave Tuesday and not given a reason for the decision in a letter from Dr. J. Michael Conoyer, the chairman of the Lindenwood University Board of Trustees.

Chris Duggan, director of marketing and communications for Lindenwood, said the school “can’t comment on personnel matters.”

Neither Shonrock nor Conoyer could be reached for comment Tuesday.

On Jan. 22, Shonrock told students and faculty in an announcement that Brett Barger, who was named president of Lindenwood University-Belleville in 2015, was no longer affiliated with the university, where he had earned three degrees and had worked since the 1990s.

Barger had been placed on administrative leave last fall.

In a statement released last week to the BND, Barger said, “As much as I’ve enjoyed my career at Lindenwood, it is simply the right time to move on to new pursuits.”

Shonrock was named president of the Lindenwood system in 2015 shortly before Barger was appointed president of the Belleville campus, which was established in 2003 in the former Belleville West High School at 2600 W. Main St.

Shonrock told Lindenlink he had a “gut feeling” that not many board members knew what was happening to Shonrock, and that he invited students to ask that the board meeting scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday be open to the public.

He also reported that the university had talked to him about extending his contract, which is due to expire in June 2020.

After Barger was placed on leave last fall, city of Belleville officials and Lindenwood leaders including Shonrock met twice in person to discuss the status of Lindenwood University-Belleville, Mayor Mark Eckert said.

“We had not had any messages … about anything being cut” in Belleville, Eckert said. “If anything, we were having some conversations about … how do we strengthen the Belleville campus for the future.”

In 2003, Belleville agreed to give the college $150,000 a year for 20 years for a total of $3 million in tax increment financing funds. Meanwhile, Lindenwood has said it invested about $30 million in improving the campus. Projects include construction of two dormitories and renovations of the gym, auditorium and campus football stadium.

“We remain very concerned and we remain very interested in partnering with the board of directors to keep the … university here strong and viable,” Eckert said.

Mike Koziatek is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, where this article was originally published.

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