Local News

N.C. State fires Mary Easley

Posted June 8, 2009

— The North Carolina State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to terminate the contract of former first lady Mary Easley.

Easley has resisted calls in recent weeks to step down from her $170,000-a-year job at N.C. State, despite a growing controversy that claimed the jobs of three top university officials.

University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles said N.C. State needed to "bring sunlight to this issue," so he backed trustees' efforts to separate themselves from Easley.

Web only: Officials discuss Easley, Oblinger departures Web only: Officials discuss Easley, Oblinger

"This is obviously a distraction," Bowles said. "It's one of the reasons you want to put an end to it."

Easley couldn't be reached Monday for comment.

She has served as an executive-in-residence and senior lecturer at N.C. State since 2005, developing the Millennium Seminars speakers program and teaching a graduate course in public administration and courses in the Administrative Officers Management Program, which provides leadership training to law enforcement officers.

Last year, she received an 88 percent pay increase when she signed a five-year contract. N.C. State officials defended the move, saying she had taken on additional duties, such as directing pre-law services at the university and serving as a liaison to area law firms and law schools at other universities as she developed a dual degree program.

Provost Larry Nielsen and McQueen Campbell, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, resigned last month amid questions over their roles in Mary Easley's hiring. Chancellor James Oblinger submitted his resignation Monday after officials questioned the lucrative payout he negotiated with Nielsen as he transitioned into a faculty position.

Bowles said he wasn't sure how much terminating Easley's contract would cost N.C. State, noting officials haven't discussed anything with her attorney, Marvin Schiller.

Schiller declined to comment Monday, saying he was still reviewing the day's developments to determine his next move.

Both Bowles and former Lt. Gov. Bob Jordan, who replaced Campbell as chairman of N.C. State's Board of Trustees, said they found no criminal intent or effort to defraud in Mary Easley's hiring or her promotion.

"Just because someone can't remember something and just because they make a mistake doesn't mean it was intentional," Jordan said.

E-mails released by the university Monday show that Campbell and Oblinger discussed Mary Easley's hiring in April 2005, but Oblinger said in a statement that he didn't recall the communications until he read the e-mails again last week.

The e-mails were among documents N.C. State turned over to a federal grand jury investigating the dealings former Gov. Mike Easley had with friends and contributors while in office.

Bowles said he first saw the e-mails last Friday and added that they "made me feel sick."

He said he had believed Oblinger's contention that he didn't remember any conversations about Mary Easley. "When I saw these e-mails and the extent of (his) involvement, it has made it more difficult for me to believe," Bowles said.

Jordan said the only mistakes he saw in the episode was a lack of judgment.

"The shame in this is that we lose the services of Jim Oblinger because we got tied up in this," he said, calling Oblinger "one of the greatest chancellors" N.C. State has ever had.

284 Comments

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  • demo7691 Jun 11, 8:42 a.m.

    How about removing Erskin Bowels since he reviewed and approaved the hire back when it was done. Typical Clinton/Easley administration mess. Typical crooked politicians

  • Professor Jun 10, 1:35 p.m.

    No voting on this one since it really is OLD NEWS!!!

  • Professor Jun 10, 1:27 p.m.

    This is really old news.

  • Tarheel born Jun 10, 12:00 p.m.

    And the "good ole' boys network" continues to crumble. Good riddance..

  • give me no quarter Jun 10, 11:33 a.m.

    "Mary Easley was the innocent victim in all of this. I bet 99.9% of everyone posting would have stayed on like she did. You people are just jealous."

    "And quit trying to roast Beverly Purdue. I've never seen such immaturity in my life!" Shaleen, are you for real or just could not wait for happy hour? Purdue is roasting herself without any help and Mary Easley is about as innocent as OJ.

  • muttley - back by popular demand Jun 10, 11:14 a.m.

    What all do you neo-cons want? You bash the democrat leaders of this state, but yet you have no alternative plan.

    Mary Easley was the innocent victim in all of this. I bet 99.9% of everyone posting would have stayed on like she did. You people are just jealous.

    And quit trying to roast Beverly Purdue. I've never seen such immaturity in my life!

  • cragan Jun 10, 9:34 a.m.

    There is a nice budget cut

  • thnkb4uspk Jun 9, 7:06 p.m.

    Mooooooooooooooving on...thank God!

  • renaizzanceman Jun 9, 5:24 p.m.

    "After reading many of these comments I have concluded that most of the commentors are totally ignorant of how universities operate worldwide."/endquote.
    Are you implying that all universities world wide operate under the political influence of the community leaders to hire their family?
    You didn't miss the ball on this one buddy, you fell off the bleachers.
    This has to do with Easley using his political power to act in a completely unethical manner. Perhaps you didn't sit in on ethics when you went to school in your birkenstocks hmm?

  • james27613 Jun 9, 4:43 p.m.

    The entire Board of Trustees needs to resign to,
    they approved this contract after the fact, behind closed doors.

    New BOT needs to make rule for a UNC Systemwide HR negotiator, instead of letting each Chancellor or Provost do salary and contracts.

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