Local News

Fox Defends Firings Of NCSU Administrators

Posted January 21, 2003 5:05 a.m. EST

— N.C. State University Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said she fired two veteran administrators this week for good reasons and that she wanted a strong leadership team in the provost's office.

"I wanted to assure them this was not a precipitous decision, that it was based on continued evaluations over a long period," Fox said Thursday after a closed-door appearance before a UNC Board of Governors committee.

Fox fired senior vice provost C. Frank Abrams Jr. and vice provost Bruce I. Mallette on Tuesday after their boss, Provost Stuart L. Cooper, refused to fire them himself. Cooper, the university's No. 2 administrator, resigned Wednesday in protest of her action.

Abrams, 58, senior vice provost for academic affairs and Cooper's chief of staff, and Mallette said their job performance reviews had given no indication of problems.

"She has never stated to me that she was dissatisfied with my performance," Mallette said.

Mallette, 49, vice provost for academic administration, said Fox fired him Tuesday afternoon after he refused to resign. The chancellor thanked him for two decades of service and handed him a letter outlining a three-month special assignment to study tuition and fees at land-grant universities, he said. She told him to vacate his office immediately and work from home for the next 90 days, after which his service is terminated.

"She said, `In my five years, I haven't seen any leadership from you. It's time for a change,' " Mallette said Wednesday night.

Several NCSU deans who met with Fox at their request Thursday morning said she did not offer specifics about Abrams and Mallette. She explained that she wanted trustworthy leaders who would carry her message to the rest of the campus, said Marvin Malecha, dean of the College of Design since 1994.

At her request, Fox reported on the firings at a regular meeting of the UNC Board of Governors personnel committee late Thursday in Chapel Hill.

"We don't have any jurisdiction anyway, so we made no recommendations and gave no advice," committee chairman Craig Souza of Raleigh said after the 20-minute, closed-door session with Fox. "We listened, and that was it."

UNC system President Molly Broad pointed out that chancellors have full authority to terminate senior administrators, who serve "at will."