Dr. Murdock Head, whose activities seeking federal funds are under scrutiny by a Washington grand jury, will take a six-month sabbatical leave from his George Washington University positions, a university spokesman said this week.
Head will remain executive director of the Airlie Foundation, an allied non-profit organization in Warrenton, during the leave period, a foundation spokesman said.
Neither the university official, Jack Wilson, nor the foundation spokesman, Frank Kavanaugh, said he could offer an explanation of why Head was taking the leave.
The leave is effective July 1 and, under university rules, Head will be eligible to continue to receive his $51,000-a-year GWU salary during the period, university officials said.
Word of Head's leave from the university comes about a week after the Agency for International Development refused to continue funding a $1 million-a-year project Head's GWU department had with the agency. Head's associates earlier had expressed fears that a Justice Department investigation of Head would cut off the federal funds that have largely supported his GWU department and his Virginia foundation.
A former director of one of Head's government-funded projects said Head recently had expressed concerns over the impact "continuing allegations" against him would have on his projects. "He probably believed he had nothing to be gained and it would be better for the university" if he stepped aside at this time, said Werner Fornos.
Head, who hold graduates, degrees in medicine, law and dentistry, is chairman of the university medical center's department of medical and public affairs and holds the "Airlie chair" in the department, an endowed professorship his foundation created.
A federal grand jury, prompted by allegations from Stephen B. Elko, a former congressional aide, in investigating Head's activities. Elko has testified before a House committee that Head have him money wrapped in tissue paper for delivery to former Rep. Otto E. Passman (D-La.) Elko also has been reported to have between $40,000 and $43,000 in the early 1970s for delivery to Passman and Elko's boss. Rep. Daniel J. Flood (D-Pa.).
Head has denied the charges.