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N.C. State letter cites economy for Mary Easley's firing

Posted June 11, 2009

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— The economic downturn and a decision by North Carolina State University to cut programs overseen by the state's former first lady were reasons for her termination earlier this week.

That's according to a June 10 letter to Mary Easley that was posted Thursday morning on the university's Web site.

Should NCSU officials get severance packages? Should NCSU officials get severance packages?

The university's Board of Trustees terminated Easley's five-year contract Monday, ending her $170,000-a-year job as an executive-in-residence and senior lecturer.

Questions surrounding her hiring in 2005 and an 88 percent pay raise last year have caused a shake-up at the school, leading to several top university administrators, including the chancellor, resigning from their posts.

Interim Chancellor James Woodward made no mention of the controversy in his letter, only that the programs she was hired to administer would be "eliminated or severely reduced."

"I regret the necessity of this action," he wrote.

At a news conference Thursday morning, Woodward, who replaces James Oblinger as chancellor, said the controversy wasn't mentioned because "it simply was not necessary to go into that at all."

The issue is a legal matter, and some attorneys have said it is easier to terminate a personnel contract on the grounds of budgetary restraints as opposed to cause.

Easley will not be receiving a severance package, unlike Oblinger and former Provost Larry Nielsen, who each stand to receive sizeable transition packages as they move back into faculty positions.

In light of the concerns, university leaders had called on Easley to resign, but she resisted, saying, through her attorney that she had a valid contract with the university.

Easley on Wednesday issued an open letter to the university that likewise didn’t mention the controversy. In the letter, she said working at N.C. State was a privilege, and she urged the university to focus on the welfare of students.

Federal investigators have subpoenaed information about her job, as well as information about trips the family made while her husband, former Gov. Mike Easley, was in office.

Documents turned over to a federal grand jury on Monday include e-mails showing the former governor discussing a job at N.C. State for his wife.

Oblinger, Nielsen and McQueen Campbell, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, have resigned in recent weeks amid questions over their roles in her hiring. Campbell was the trustee who communicated with Mike Easley four years ago in the e-mails.

All three have denied any wrongdoing.

Woodward said he is still considering pay-package details for both Oblinger and Nielsen.

Some have questioned that with ethical questions and a tough budget year whether the two should receive the compensation they are expected.

"When you've been lied to, you have an immediate reaction," said N.C. State faculty chairman Jim Martin. "The six months of the chancellor's salary is the magnitude of the cut my department is being asked to take. That stinks."

115 Comments

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  • delilahk2000 Jun 15, 2009

    One more thing her job is no different than the on gov. Bev. did I creating for the CEO of the schools. He should be fired just like Easley. What she did in creating the job for him is just as dishonest.

  • delilahk2000 Jun 15, 2009

    Oblinger and Neilson should not be getting paid for 6mths and they are not working,we don't. What a bunch of idiots, paying them to sit home, if they are getting paid why not make them work for it. They can draw unemployment like the rest of us. But then again this is the local gov.they DON"T THINK AT ALL>>>>> They just throw our money away. If the economy is that bad why would you pay a person to not do his job. I am floored by the mentality of these people or the lack of it.

  • gpcherokee Jun 15, 2009

    Ya know, I never heard this one until after the fact. The media always said it was her husband. Hmmm??? I need a sliderule for this one.

  • GWALLY Jun 15, 2009

    Calm down people...it was her husband and his political kissbutt buddies that got her the job.....!!!!

  • webberx101 Jun 15, 2009

    public humiliation...

  • hdew2 Jun 15, 2009

    Oh yeah,and there is a Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

  • pbjbeach Jun 12, 2009

    THERE ARE JUST TO MANY K.A.'S working in state government an not enough state workers with the nads to stand up to mangament an realy tell them the truth .

  • pbjbeach Jun 12, 2009

    cavemane93

    that is the trouble in state government right now no one at any state agency really has a pair to stand up an tell the truth for state government is defiently afaird of the truth . i have alway heard all of my life to tell the truth an the truth will set you free . an it is a truthful statement if you ask me

  • pbjbeach Jun 12, 2009

    The higher ups in state goevrnment are just like vampires for they surely can not stand to have the daylight shone on them for they will melt right away under the subshine of the truth. in fact in my opinion the maganment of state government wouldn't know the truth if it jumped up an bite them thank you

  • pbjbeach Jun 12, 2009

    THAT IS WHAT IS WRONG ABOUT THIS WHOLE SITUATION IS THAT THE CHARTERS IN THIS FOLLEY ALL HAVE AN AIR OF PRIVILEDGE ABOUT THEM IT IS LIKE DO AS I SAY NOT AS I DO AN THAT IS THE SAME SITUATION IN MY OPINION THAT EXISTS WITHIN EVERY STATE MANGERS OFFICE IN NEARLY EVERY STATE AGENCY IRREGARDLESS OF WHO OR WHAT AGENCY IT IS AN IT HAS BEEN THIS WAY FOR A GOOD NUMBER OF YEARS THANK YOU

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