The Indianapolis Public Library Board’s choice for a new CEO has declined the job following pushback from community members who favored interim CEO Nichelle Hayes in that role.
The library announced Gabriel Morley had turned down the job in a news release Friday afternoon, less than a day after he was named to the post. The library system said it will soon resume the search for a new CEO. In the interim, Chief Public Services Officer Gregory Hill will serve as acting CEO. Hayes has not been offered the role.
When Morley was announced as the new CEO Thursday evening, two members of the library Board of Trustees expressed dissent and one did not vote. A crowd of about two dozen protested the decision and held a “community vote,” in favor of Hayes.
A library media release Thursday evening indicated that the CEO would accept the offer and start within a week. But after negative reaction, Morley has declined the offer.
“Though it was an honor to be chosen by a majority of the board, it is clear that this is not the right fit for me at this time,” Morley said in a news release. “I am disheartened by the way we have come to this point and decision. I wish IndyPL well in its future endeavors.”
Previously, Morley abruptly resigned from the New Orleans Public Library system in November 2021—less than two years after taking the job—when local media found out he was still living in his home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, instead of taking up residency in New Orleans, a requirement of the job under city ordinances.
“Board members who voted for Dr. Morley understand his decision to decline our offer,” the statement said.
At the Thursday meeting, the board faced accusations from supporters of Hayes that the voice of the community was not heard. Board member Khaula Murtadha said the decision was against what the community had told the library governing body.
Board President Jose Salinas disagreed in a written statement on Friday.
“To those saying that the board did not represent the staff or community, please understand that we received feedback and input from our 15-person search committee that included members from inside the Library and from the community, Library leadership, Library staff, patrons, and other inputs that led us to this decision,” Salinas said. “Dr. Morley earned this offer on his own merit, through his qualifications, and decades of experience. With this news the Library Board will consider how to move forward with another search.”