Lindley Estes covers the University of Mary Washington for and The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at 
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Frawley opens up in book about failed university presidents

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William Frawley, the ill-fated, single-year president of the University of Mary Washington, opened up recently in a book about university presidencies and why they fail.

As reported by the Washington Post, “Presidencies Derailed: Why University Leaders Fail and How to Prevent It,” by long-serving George Washington University president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg was published in August by Johns Hopkins University Press and contains interviews with two presidents, one being Frawley, about their short term presidencies.



Frawley was fired from UMW’s top administrative position in 2007 after he was charged with two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Frawley is quoted as saying:

“I think as a senior university administrator, you are forced into being functionally dishonest, saying empty positives in expected public academic discourse, all the while keeping the real truth of an institution — its crunches, impossibilities and realistic sense of itself and its future — behind villa walls. Over the course of twenty-five years, from chair to dean to president, I found myself becoming a robotic academic apologist and increasingly disillusioned with dishonesty. To do the job, I turned into a kind of anti-intellectual; the events that happened were a necessary part of me giving that up and getting genuine freedom, which I think I have now.”

The next president to take the helm at UMW, Judy Hample, also left the post abruptly, after two years on the job.


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  • Patrick Victor

    Oh please! Everybody lied about his drinking and driving, yeah right.

  • MartinWork

    This is how the art of spin comes out at the other end of trying to justify yet another lie to ones self.

  • Joseph_Riviera

    This book looks like a real page-turner!

  • Robert Walter

    Frawley was the worst excuse for a university president ever hired by the Commonwealth of Virginia! Drinking and crashing cars was “a necessary part of me giving that up”??? His wife did not attend or speak the night he was introduced because she knew that he would fail as he had a bad drinking problem! He was an embarrassment for UMW and Fredericksburg.

    • Action

      Of course the students had to pay for this as well. If I recall correctly, the university let Frawley go with a year remaining on his contract and had to pay him for that time as well as the time he was on administrative leave until he went to court.
      What a scam… These type people are always the victim.
      Go drown your sorrows in a bottle Farley, but when you do please do me a favor and stay off the streets.

      • Justin779

        I blame the board and UMW attorney for not having a clause in his (and every) contract that would prevent UMW from having to pay off a contract for those dismissed for cause. That was our tax money they wasted

  • Action

    He should run for office in DC.

  • talon82

    Frawley is shameless with continued refusal to accept
    responsibility for his actions. His poor decision-making did not occur under duress. As a senior university administrator for many years, he was in a position to begin changing the culture that he now conveniently speaks against. He made the choice to perpetuate the status quo because it worked for his own self-interests. Yet, he was continually promoted to positions of greater responsibility until his fraudulent character was discovered. Shame on the UMW Board of Visitors and search firm for not identifying his lack of fitness for such an important position.

  • Justin779

    He failed because he was a drunk. Blaming anything or anyone else for your alcoholism (and pathological arrogance) just reveals a lack of character and integrity. He is and was anything but an “intellectual”