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Mediate what?
Mr. Frawley's been convicted, so why should mediation with UMW continue?

Date published: 9/26/2007

The University of Mary Washington is an academic community dedicated to the highest standards of scholarship, personal integrity, responsible conduct, and respect for the individual.

--UMW application

LIKE ICARUS' plunge to Earth when he flew too close to the sun, former University of Mary Washington President William Frawley's fall from grace has not been elegant. Arrested twice in two days this past spring for driving under the influence, the Board of Visitors dismissed him "with cause" on April 30. So why is he pressing his case with the university and insisting on mediation?

Last week, Mr. Frawley entered Alford pleas to DUI in courts in Fredericksburg and Fairfax, essentially admitting the state had enough evidence to convict him on the charges in both jurisdictions. Thus, adjudication has now confirmed the "cause" for which he was removed from his position: Mr. Frawley was, in fact, driving under the influence. Two DUIs in two days constitute irresponsible conduct and reveal a lack of personal integrity--both qualities integral to the UMW community he was supposed to be leading. The BOV was justified in firing Mr. Frawley.

But wait: A clause in the former president's $300,000-plus per year contract allows him, in the event of dismissal, to seek mediation at the university's expense. And so he did, apparently looking for additional remuneration.

What does Mr. Frawley expect? Besides embarrassment to the university, and the false start of his aborted presidency, Mr. Frawley also has cost UMW the $75,000 it paid Korn/Ferry International for the search that brought him to the school, moving expenses, nine months of salary and other benefits, and now the $92,500-plus that the BOV has agreed to pay another search firm to find his replacement. What else does the school owe him?

Last week in Fredericksburg, General District Court Judge John Stevens suspended Mr. Frawley's driver's license, fined him, and ordered him to attend alcohol abuse sessions. The judge in Fairfax gave Mr. Frawley a suspended 30-day jail sentence, also pulled his driver's license, fined him, put him on probation, and ordered him to attend the state's substance-abuse counseling program.

As a convicted drunken driver, Mr. Frawley should know that one of the first principles of substance addiction recovery is admitting one's wrongs--and taking responsibility for them. A sign that he is on the road to recovery--and a fruitful continuation of his career as a linguist--might be discontinuing his quest for mediation. In many ways, that's the least he could do.

Meanwhile, the BOV owes him nothing, and nothing more is what he should get.