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Murray State, UT-Knoxville experiencing turbulence

February 19, 2001

Murray State University President Kern Alexander has announced his resignation, effective June 30, the date of his 62nd birthday. He has been with the university for seven years.

In other news related to Murray State, a federal appeals court ruled last Friday that the mother of a student killed in a dormitory fire may sue an MSU official.

According to the Feb. 12 edition of "The Chronicle of Higher Education," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reinstated a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Gail Minger against Murray's associate housing director, David Wilson. The suit holds Wilson responsible for the death of Minger's son, who died in a 1998 dormitory fire.

According to the lawsuit, Minger had called the associate housing director after a dormitory fire to express concern for the safety of her son, Michael, who was dyslexic and experienced spatial disorientation. Minger says Wilson told her the previous fire in the dormitory was "nothing to worry about." Michael Minger later died in a fire in that dormitory.

The court decided Wilson's comments met the standard for "intentional misrepresentation" and a "knowingly wrongful act."

UT-Knoxville also is having dorm-related difficulties. Two armed robberies took place within 15 days in Morrill Hall, a high-rise complex housing 700 students. The most recent robbery occurred Tuesday, Feb. 6, when an intruder carrying a handgun entered a male student's fifth-floor room through an open door, tied him to a chair and stole $50.

Two weeks earlier, two armed men entered an open door on the sixth floor, forcing two male students to the floor. The intruders stole $41 and a laptop computer in that break-in. One of the students was kicked in the head; he was treated and released from a Knoxville hospital.

Images of the assailants were captured on security cameras, but police have made no arrests.