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FAU President Saunders resigns amid controversies

After a series of very public controversies, Florida Atlantic University President Mary Jane Saunders resigned Tuesday, the school announced today.

Saunders faced a series of controversies in the past year, including defending a professor who asked students to stomp on a paper after writing the name "Jesus" and a failed attempt to name the football stadium after jail contractor Geo Group.

“There is no doubt the recent controversies have been significant and distracting to all members of the University community," Saunders wrote in her resignation letter, according to an excerpt posted on the school's website. "The issues and the fiercely negative media coverage have forced me to reassess my position as the President of FAU. I must make choices that are the best for the University, me and my family.”

Saunders served as FAU president for three years. The school's Board of Trustees will likely launch a national search to name her replacement at the Boca Raton-based school, and an interim president will be in place by the fall.

Dennis Crudele, FAU’s senior vice president for finance and administration, was named the acting president, effective immediately.

The chairman of the board overseeing all 12 state universities said today that Saunders had made a "very difficult decision for her and her family."

"The Board of Governors is grateful to President Saunders for her dedication to Florida Atlantic University and to the State University System over the past three years, and we wish her all the best in the future," Chairman Dean Colson said. "We stand in full support of FAU’s Board of Trustees and university leaders as they work through this transition."