Local Politics

University system: Release of Easley documents is complete

Posted September 4, 2009 5:36 p.m. EDT
Updated September 4, 2009 5:38 p.m. EDT

— The University of North Carolina system said Friday that all documents relating to the controversial hiring and salary of Mary Easley have now been made public.

North Carolina State University hired the then-first lady in 2005 as an executive-in-residence and senior lecturer to develop the Millennium Seminars speakers program and to teach two courses. Last year, she received a raise to $170,000 a year, a move that officials defended at the time by saying she had taken on additional duties.

Citing state budget cuts to the programs she oversaw, N.C. State terminated Easley's contract in June. She has appealed the termination.

The general administration department for the UNC System released a compact disc of documents Friday, hundreds of pages in all relating to Easley's promotion and the investigation that followed. The university system turned those same documents over to the U.S. Attorney's office Thursday.

A federal grand jury is investigating former Gov. Mike Easley's dealings with friends and contributors while he was in office, including how Mary Easley obtained her job at N.C. State.

Most of the documents released Friday are copies of news stories the vice president of communications e-mailed to administrators. The practice of monitoring workplace news is typical among many companies and organizations.

The information also includes e-mails to and from reporters requesting information from the system. Many of the documents, such as a justification of Mary Easley's salary, had already been released to reporters.

E-mail communication shows that even last summer, top officials had concerns about Mary Easley's 88 percent salary increase. Administrators initially said the raise was justified because of increased work hours and duties.

Eventually, the university Board of Governors found that N.C. State had violated policy by not bringing the salary to them for review.

Ultimately, the controversy led to three high-profile resignations at the university. Provost Larry Nielsen and McQueen Campbell, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, resigned in May amid questions over their roles in Easley's hiring. Chancellor James Oblinger submitted his resignation in June after officials questioned the lucrative payout he negotiated with Nielsen.