December 9, 2022

Indy library's pick for CEO declines job offer amid community outcry

Indianapolis Public Library board members meet Dec. 8, 2022, to announce their decision to offer the library’s CEO job to Gabriel Morley. - Chloe McGowan/Indianapolis Recorder

Indianapolis Public Library board members meet Dec. 8, 2022, to announce their decision to offer the library’s CEO job to Gabriel Morley.

Chloe McGowan/Indianapolis Recorder

Updated Dec. 9 at 3:30 p.m.

Gabriel Morley has declined the CEO position with Indianapolis Public Library less than 24 hours after the board voted to offer him the job.

In a statement, Morley said it was clear this wasn’t the right fit for him.

“I am disheartened by the way we have come to this point and decision,” he said. “I wish IndyPL well in its future endeavors.”

Attention now turns to Nichelle M. Hayes, who had been the library’s interim CEO until the board voted to offer Morley the permanent job Dec. 8.

Reached by phone after the announcement that Morley declined the offer, Hayes said she doesn’t have immediate plans and hasn’t thought about if she’ll try for the permanent position again. Hayes, who is still employed by the library, was a finalist along with Morley.

Chief Public Services Officer Gregory Hill will serve as acting CEO, and a permanent CEO search will resume “in the near future,” the library said in a statement.

In a statement, Salinas said the board understands Morley’s decision.

“Dr. Morley earned this offer on his own merit, through his qualifications, and decades of experience,” Salinas said. “With this news the Library Board will consider how to move forward with another search.”

The board voted 4-2 in favor of offering Morley the job, with one board member abstaining from the vote. Many people in attendance at the meeting booed the decision, yelling “shame” and telling board president Jose Salinas he would be held accountable.

Board member Khaula Murtadha, one of the no votes, said at the meeting the decision to offer Morley the CEO job instead of Hayes “is against what the community has told us.”

In recent days, people who have worked for and with libraries Morley previously oversaw, including in New Orleans, spoke to Indianapolis media about their concerns, which ranged from the way he handled COVID-19 to misrepresenting budget cuts.

Michael Torres, Indy Library Workers Union president, said the news of Morley declining the position of CEO was a relief but has no idea where they go from here.

“I was elated and glad but now I’m angry in a sense that I’m frustrated they put Nichelle through this,” Torres said. “The only response is to hire her.”

Torres called the board dysfunctional and said if they decided to do another search for a CEO instead of extending an offer to Hayes, their entire process should be examined.

“You had the right one in the first place, told her no, and the next day … now they’ve declined,” he said. “I think the process for this whole search needs to be examined, even the consultant’s company, why they pushed this gentleman on us.”

This story will be updated.

Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848 or chloegm@indyrecorder.com.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853 or tylerf@indyrecorder.com.

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