INDIANAPOLIS – On Thursday, the Indianapolis Public Library announced its new CEO.

A day later, that candidate declined to take the job.

The Board of Trustees touted the hiring of Dr. Gabriel Morley in a news release issued Thursday. But Morley announced his plans to decline the position on Friday, saying he was “disheartened” by how things happened.

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

Interim Chief Public Services Officer Gregory Hill will serve as acting CEO for the time being, while the library will resume its search for a permanent CEO “in the near future.”

Morley was selected over Nichelle Hayes, a longtime library employee who’d served as the interim CEO for eight months. Morley’s candidacy and selection received sharp criticism from the community, leading to a petition asking for the library to name Hayes CEO.

Hayes’ supporters believe she is more qualified for the position and “deeply invested” in the Indianapolis community. The petition had more than 650 signatures as of Friday afternoon.

Morley formerly led libraries in Atlanta and New Orleans. He earned his degree in library science and a doctorate in adult education from the University of Southern Mississippi.

He was offered a three-year contract. Library board president Judge Jose Salinas said he and the other board members “understand” Morley’s decision to turn down the job. He also defended the hiring process.

“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.”