NORMAL – The former superintendent of grounds at Illinois State University who lost his job after an incident involving the then-president of ISU has a new job in a different position on campus.
Patrick Murphy started work Thursday as a horticulturalist and curator of the Fell Arboretum, ISU Chief of Staff Jay Groves said. His salary is $65,004 — the same as it was in his former position, according to Groves.
Murphy's old position of superintendent of grounds is remaining vacant while the university reviews the title, job description and duties of that job to see what best meets the needs of the department, Groves said.
A message from Murphy's attorney, Glenn Stanko of Champaign, Thursday afternoon said neither he nor Murphy would be making public comments at this time about his return to work.
Murphy was near the end of his probationary period in his original job when he got into an alleged altercation with then-ISU President Timothy Flanagan on Dec. 5. He was told five days later that he would be fired.
Flanagan, who resigned March 22, has been charged with disorderly conduct in connection with the incident. He pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
Flanagan's successor, Larry Dietz, decided Murphy “deserved another opportunity at the university” after Dietz met with human resources and other campus officials and reviewed Murphy's full, confidential file, Groves said.
Murphy applied for the horiculturalist/curator position that was available because of a retirement and was hired, Groves said. The position reports to the biology department and will include expanded duties within that department, he said.
Stanko sent a letter in February to members of the ISU board of trustees asking them to “intervene in this exceptional situation” and reinstate Murphy. A similar letter was sent to Dietz five days after he was named president. Both letters emphasized legal action was not being threatened.
Groves said the board did not have anything to do with either Murphy's dismissal or his hiring for the new job. He said Dietz began reviewing Murphy's case immediately after becoming president.
Murphy is an ISU graduate with a degree in horticulture/agribusiness. He served in the U.S. Army for eight years before beginning work and his education in the horticulture field.