Bacone College president resigns after three-month suspension

Tuesday, February 12th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) _ The president of Bacone College has resigned, ending a three-month suspension, officials said.

According to a statement released Monday, Norman Madsen has resigned. His departure came nearly three months after the private American Baptist college suspended him with pay for unspecified reasons.

Though Madsen is leaving, some of his initiatives _ including transforming the former junior college into a four-year school _ will continue, the statement said.

Owen Halleen will remain interim president until a permanent successor is found, the statement said.

Halleen's ``leadership will ensure that progress will continue,'' board Chairwoman Elizabeth Hoffman said in the statement. ``The entire board is enthusiastic about the future of Bacone.''

Madsen, who was suspended by the school's executive committee, wrote in a Dec. 13 letter to trustees about his concerns the school may have violated financial aid guidelines that require its financial aid office to have a system of checks and balances.

State authorities looked at Bacone College because of Madsen's comments.

Halleen and others disagreed with Madsen, saying Bacone's financial aid office operates separately from the school's business office, thus satisfying all guidelines.

Madsen was hired in 1999 to turn around the college, which opened 121 years ago.

During his tenure, Bacone's enrollment increased almost 300 percent to 1,100 students, and the budget expanded from $3.9 million to $12 million.

With the unprecedented growth came dramatic stresses on staffing, building and financial needs, according to reports. A Muskogee builder who renovated facilities there filed a lawsuit against the school for unpaid bills, but later dropped it when the school paid up.

``We had a lot of good success there,'' Madsen said Monday from his home in St. Louis. ``I'm really pleased the college is going to continue applying those successes.

``I'm just pleased the college is getting back to health and is going to survive.''

Officials said the school has formed a search committee to find Madsen's permanent successor.