In an interview Tuesday, Williams expressed concerns that the board's swift action would raise questions about her performance.

"The abruptness does give the impression that something happened, like some big trigger," she said. "I do want to make it clear that there has been no malfeasance, because short of a reason, it seems strange."

Williams said her contract allows her to be terminated with or without cause. Which option the college chooses will determine the severance and benefits she is entitled to, she said.

"I'm sure any paperwork I receive will clear that up for me," she said.

Williams said she could not think of a good cause for her termination. She said the college has seen a 26 percent increase in the number of graduates in the last two years, and a recent "climate survey" showed a boost in morale and confidence in leadership among employees since the no-confidence vote.

"We worked very hard to get off probation, and so the college has really taken a turn for the better and was on an upward trajectory including in relationships" among staff, she said.

Meanwhile, Morgan officials announced Tuesday that Wilson, who has served as president since 2010, is expected to join the university as a professor when his contract expires in June.

The board's decision not to renew Wilson's contract came as a shock to students and professors, most of whom had left campus for winter break. More than 500 students had signed an online petition by Tuesday evening asking that Wilson remain in office.

Sources close to the board said Monday that the vote to remove Wilson was 8-7. Chairman Dallas Evans did not returns calls for comment Monday and Tuesday.

Councilman Robert W. Curran, whose Northeast Baltimore district includes Morgan's campus, said the move was a "step backward" for Morgan.

"It's a real shame that there are some on the board of regents that might be shortsighted and not share his vision for the future," said Curran, praising Wilson's efforts to expand the campus west of Hillen Road.

But some students said that Wilson, who holds a doctorate in education from Harvard, was not a good fit for the university.

"He didn't seem genuine," said Chinedu Nwokeafor, a junior who heads the X Assembly, a multimedia and student advocacy group.

Nwokeafor said X Assembly members recently met with Wilson to vent their concerns about a lack of healthy food on campus and the president responded in "condescending" tones.

The speech communications major said he was not satisfied with Wilson's response to a recent string of violent episodes on campus. Two people were shot on campus this semester. In the spring, a Morgan student who had allegedly acted violently and erratically on campus was charged with killing a family friend and eating his heart and part of his brain.

"We've done many initiatives to inform him that we as a student body don't feel safe," said Nwokeafor. "But there was no real action."

In a letter sent Monday night to the "Morgan Family," Wilson questioned the board's decision.

"I stand proudly on the body of work we have been able to achieve during my tenure," he wrote. "It is indeed unfortunate that half of the members of the Board of Regents and I do not see it the same way."

Attempts to reach Wilson on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

twitter.com/juliemore

krector@baltsun.com

twitter.com/rectorsun

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts