Bacone College hires second interim president

Friday, December 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) _ Bacone College has hired a second interim president after the private Baptist school's two-year president was suspended for reasons it will not disclose.

The college hired Owen Halleen, former head of a small American Baptist School in Sioux Falls, S.D., to run the school _ at least temporarily.

Halleen replaces Bacone Chief Operating Officer Mike Leonard, who was interim president since Norman Madsen was suspended several weeks ago.

Madsen, who helped triple the college's enrollment since he arrived two years ago, is on paid leave. Officials will not say why the president was removed.

Madsen, who is now living in St. Louis, said some of the Bacone trustees may have been uncomfortable with how fast he allowed the college to grow.

``I didn't know it was a crime to grow too fast,'' Madsen said. ``When I was hired, I understood the board's strategic plan was to grow the college. I believe I acted on that goal.''

While Madsen was president, Bacone's annual operating budget surged to $12 million from $3.9 million. Full-time student equivalent enrollment grew to 1,100 students from about 300.

Madsen said the school was financially troubled before he arrived on campus and is now financially sound.

``We were aware that the infrastructure was stressed, but these things happen with growth,'' Madsen said. ``We were taking the actions necessary to address the most urgent areas.''

Some board members have criticized Madsen's suspension.

``I fully support Norman Madsen,'' said school trustee Dolores Broyles. ``He has done a marvelous job in leading the school and turning it around.''

Leonard called Madsen's situation a ``personnel matter'' and would not discuss it. He said the board would learn all the details of the suspension at its Jan. 4 meeting.