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Amid Free Speech Scandal, Embattled Valdosta State President Announces Early Retirement

Late yesterday, Valdosta State University (VSU) President Ronald M. Zaccari announced that he will be retiring in June 2008, at the end of the 2007-2008 academic year, rather than December 2008, as originally planned. Zaccari’s early retirement comes at a time when both Zaccari and VSU are under increasing fire for the unconstitutional expulsion of former VSU student T. Hayden Barnes. Zaccari played a central role in Barnes’ expulsion for peacefully protesting Zaccari’s plans to spend $30 million of mandatory student fees to construct two parking garages on campus, personally ordering Barnes to be “administratively withdrawn” from campus. Zaccari claimed that Barnes presented a “clear and present danger” to both Zaccari and the VSU campus on the basis of a cut-and-paste collage Barnes had posted on his personal page on popular social networking site With FIRE’s help, Barnes is appealing Zaccari’s blatantly unconstitutional actions. A hearing before Georgia’s Office of State Administrative Hearings is scheduled for November 26, 2007.

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