Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Judge Seals Armenti's Office Acrimony Growing a Week after the Firing of Cal U President

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Judge Seals Armenti's Office Acrimony Growing a Week after the Firing of Cal U President

Article excerpt

A judge sealed the campus office of deposed California University of Pennsylvania president Angelo Armenti Jr. Wednesday after the former president went to court to stop the State System of Higher Education from evicting him.

The ruling and acrimony surrounding it are the latest signs of a brewing battle between the former president and the State System, a fight that has exposed a rift between the system's Board of Governors and leadership of Cal U's trustees.

By allowing no one to enter the premises, Washington County Common Pleas Judge Katherine Emery granted, in part, a preliminary injunction sought by Mr. Armenti, who said he was boxing up belongings in his office inside Old Main about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday when an administrator handed him an email from State System headquarters in Harrisburg ordering him out by the close of business.

The note also said he was barred from nonpublic areas of campus. He previously was given 60 days to vacate his campus apartment, also in Old Main.

The State System had no immediate comment Wednesday on the ruling or why it sought Tuesday to evict Mr. Armenti, who was fired last week.

His office will stay sealed and campus police Chief Robert Downey has custody of the keys until a hearing Friday at 1:30 p.m. before the judge, said Mr. Armenti's lawyer, Steven Toprani.

"We went to court today, really, to assert the president's right not only to protect the property that he has but to seek relief from the State System's [attempt] to limit his access," he said.

In a phone interview, Mr. Armenti said he simply wanted reasonable time to pack belongings amassed in his 20-year tenure, longest of the 14 State System schools. "I'm eager to get out of here. I'm not stalling," he said.

Mr. Armenti was fired May 16, the day before release of a financial review by State System auditors that questioned certain campus expenditures and movement of funds. However, State System officials have not linked the firing to the audit or publicly stated the reason for his removal.

"This directive to abandon the president's executive suite in essence afforded plaintiff Armenti with approximately 30 minutes in which to collect his items and was made under threat of possible police response," stated the motion for preliminary injunction. …

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