Nov 062008
 
Authors: Jim Sojourner

A CSU official said Thursday that university President Larry Penley will receive $389,000, the equivalent of a year’s salary, after announcing what students and lawmakers called his shocking resignation Wednesday.

The sum will be paid in two months, with the balance paid by Jan. 15, 2009, said Michelle McKinney, a university spokesperson.

McKinney was unsure whether the agreement includes the health benefits outlined in his contract.

Under the contract, Penley agreed to a term of employment ending on June 30, 2010.

Penley’s abrupt resignation came just two days after he met in executive session with an evaluation committee consisting of the voting members of the CSU Board of Governors as part of an annual evaluation, said Taylor Smoot, president of the Associated Students of CSU.

A few weeks earlier CSU student government officials formed an investigative committee that is looking into the president’s financial practices. The group promises to present its findings to the BOG and state legislators, who have called for greater transparency in the university’s fiscal reporting.

Shortly before the resignation, Penley was scrutinized for conducting complicated funding shifts that pushed millions of dollars that could have gone to academics into top-level administrative budgets.

State Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, said in an interview earlier this semester that, overall, he was pleased with Penley’s leadership of the university, but stressed that students and taxpayers should know more about how the university is using tuition and tax dollars.

John Straayer, a long-time CSU political science professor, has publicly criticized the administration and has charged Penley with neglecting the instructional side of the university. But, he wished Penley well in his search for other opportunities in higher education and said that Provost and Senior Executive Vice President Tony Frank, who accepted a BOG appointment to interim president Wednesday, is a good leader during the university’s search for a new president.

“I wish Dr. Penley the best, and I have confidence in Dr. Frank as he assumes his leadership responsibilities,” Straayer said in a statement.

Despite the controversy over some of Penley’s spending practices, many have lauded the former president’s ability to run the university efficiently.

During his time at CSU, Penley launched an award-winning national advertising campaign, increased freshman enrollment by record numbers every year since 2004 and brought an additional $200 million to the CSU budget.

Frank said he believes Penley “served (the) institution very well.”

“He leaves the university in an excellent position,” Frank said. “All of (the) fundamentals are very, very sound, and the president deserves a great deal of thanks for that.”

Senior Reporter Jim Sojourner can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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