NORMAL — When Illinois State University junior Lauren French received an email announcing the resignation of ISU President Timothy Flanagan after seven months in office, she thought it was a joke.
"He hasn't been here that long and it was just kind of a shock that it all happened so quickly," French, of Chicago, said Sunday afternoon outside of Bone Student Center.
The ISU board of trustees accepted Flanagan's resignation, effective immediately, during a special meeting Saturday, but no reason for his departure was disclosed. Larry Dietz, ISU's student affairs vice president and runner-up in last year's presidential search, was approved as his replacement.
The board's meeting came less than a month after a formal complaint was filed about an alleged confrontation between Flanagan and a university employee at the university-owned presidential residence. State legislators also have questioned his recent absence at two budget-related hearings in Springfield.
ISU police investigated the complaint, which now is under review by the McLean County state's attorney's office.
Several ISU students expressed surprise Sunday, but they said they don't believe they will see significant change quickly.
"It's important, but it's not," said Jade Hopkins, also an ISU junior from Chicago. "It is big news, but really, it doesn't change anything about going to class or anything like that."
Matt Drost, a junior from Rockford, wasn't even aware of the change in leadership.
"I guess I have been too busy with March Madness," he said. "I've been watching a lot of basketball."
Most students said they were aware of the formal complaint filed by a university groundskeeper who said Flanagan came out of the house Dec. 5, yelled obscenities and made contact with the worker's torso with his arm. Flanagan denied any wrongdoing.
The worker was fired five days later.
"I have heard a little bit about that, but don't really know much about what happened," said Dylan Payne, a junior from Rockford.
Most students said they have not seen much of Flanagan, who has been president since Aug. 15.
Lexi Nash, a Naperville junior on the ISU swimming team, said Flanagan had been to a swim meet and attended a meeting for student-athletes.
"I just never saw him around very much, but he was only here for seven months," she said.
Many students mentioned that they still miss former President Al Bowman, who stepped down last year for health reasons.
"He was awesome," Nash said. "He came to a lot of our meets and everybody had a great deal of respect for him."
Tyler Clark, a freshman from Johnsburg, described the shakeup as "kind of weird."
"It's my first year here and so you don't expect that to happen so quickly," he said. "I don't think I know much about what led to him resigning, but it just seemed like it happened so fast."
Most students said they didn't know much about Flanagan, either.
"He was only here for seven months, so I don't think that many students knew much about him," said Ryan Forrest, a freshman from Tinley Park. "Let's just hope the new guy works out better."