The president of Lincoln University in Missouri was placed on paid leave Friday after students and alumni called for his ouster following a senior administrator’s death by suicide this week.
President John Moseley volunteered to be placed on paid leave while a third party reviews personnel issues and concerns about mental health after Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey died Monday, the university’s board of curators said in a news release.
“As a Board, we are committed to make certain the mental health of Lincoln University employees is a priority and that every employee is always treated with dignity and respect,” board President Victor Pasley said. “The Board has confidence in the leadership team we have at Lincoln, but as we all work together to serve students and the Lincoln University community, this review will fully examine important questions, concerns and gather facts. Dr. Moseley agrees those issues should be examined and has volunteered to go on leave during the review so that it can move forward in a fully independent way.”
Candia-Bailey, who was the vice president of student affairs, took her own life in Illinois, her mother and husband told NBC News in interviews Friday. She was 49. They said that she had been terminated by Moseley on Jan. 3. The school did not respond to a request for comment about Candia-Bailey’s termination and referred to her as a “beloved alum and leader” in a Facebook post announcing her death. She started in the role May 1.
Her mother, Veronica Candia, and husband Anthony Bailey, told NBC News exclusively that she told them both during the holidays last month that her relationship with Moseley had deteriorated.
“She never gave me any specifics about what he did or said,” Candia said.
Moseley did not return phone and email requests for comment.
Bailey said his wife was depressed and did not feel supported in her role at the university.
Although the university’s board did not respond to specific questions about why it is conducting a review, Monica Graham, who had been friends with Candia-Bailey since they met during freshman year at Lincoln University, said she received an email from the administrator on the day she died.
The email included a letter addressed to Moseley accusing him of bullying, as well as lengthy criticisms about his leadership and the school administration.
The university did not respond to a request for comment about the letter, including whether it had been received by Moseley. Moseley did not immediately respond to a request for comment left at a number listed for him in public records.
“You intentionally harassed and bullied me and got satisfaction from sitting back to determine how you would ensure I failed as an employee and proud alumna,” Candia-Bailey wrote in one section, according to the email shared by Graham.
Graham said she last saw Candia-Bailey in October at the university’s homecoming celebration. “She said this job isn’t going to kill me and this job depresses me,” Graham said.
Candia and Bailey said that they had not been contacted by Moseley since Candia-Bailey’s death. They said they had only been contacted by the president of the board of curators, who on Thursday asked for written permission to have a memorial service for Candia-Bailey.
Sherman Bonds, the president of the university’s national alumni association, is among those who have called for Moseley’s ouster since Candia-Bailey’s death.
“We need new leadership and obviously to heal,” he said in an interview Friday. “My primary concern is institutional care has been breached and that falls on the office of the presidency.”
Candia said that in recent days, she has read many admiring social media posts about her daughter.
“I was not aware that there were so many people who thought so highly about my daughter,” she said. “I’d just like for her to be remembered as an inspiration to others.”
Bailey said that he wanted her to be remembered as an advocate for Lincoln University, where she graduated in 1998.
“She loved it there,” he said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or chat live at 988lifeline.org. You can also visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional support.