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The Indianapolis Public Library’s newly appointed CEO has declined the job after local residents’ pushback. Dr. Gabriel Morley announced his decision Friday stating “it is clear that this is not the right fit.”

The Indianapolis Public Library’s Board of Trustees picked Dr. Gabriel Morley to replace the library’s interim CEO Nichelle Hayes, with a 4 to 2 vote. The announcement was made publicly last Thursday, which was immediately followed by booing from several members of the public in attendance.

A group protested outside the city’s library Friday demanding the board to reverse their decision. The group also collected over 1100 signatures for an online petition demanding Nichelle Hayes become the fulltime CEO.

Hayes is a longtime library employee who’d served as the interim CEO for eight months. Her supporters say she is more qualified for the job and has “deeply invested” in the Indy community.

According to WFYI one of Hayes’ supporters asked board member Hope Tribble ‘why they passed over a Black woman for a position that is open because of accusations of racism.’ Tribble said the boards job is to simply chose the best candidate. The library’s former CEO, Jackie Nytes, resigned in 2021 after allegations of racism.

Tony Katz argues that whether or not Hayes was better suited for the job, protestors have chosen to make it about wokeism.

“You decided a guy wasn’t good enough because he was a white man. That was your issue, not his qualifications.”

Dr. Morley turned down the position amid the outcry Friday.

“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. I am disheartened by the way we have come to this point and decision. I wish IndyPL well in it’s future endeavors.”

The Indy library board president Judge Jose Salinas said he understands Dr. Morley’s decision, but also defended the board’s offer.

“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.

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.”

Dr. Morley has led several libraries around the country including Atlanta and New Orleans. He has earned a degree in library science and his doctorate is in adult education.

In November of 2021, Morley resigned from his position as director of the New Orleans Public Library after they raised questions about his residency. Morley was living in Mississippi at the time.

Interim Chief Public Services Officer Gregory Hill will serve as acting CEO, while the library will resume its search.