Local News

N.C. State trustee asks for review of ex-provost's salary

Posted June 5, 2009 2:41 p.m. EDT
Updated June 5, 2009 4:00 p.m. EDT

— The new chairman of North Carolina State University's Board of Trustees has asked for a review of the former provost's salary as he transitions to a faculty position.

Larry Nielsen stepped down as provost in mid-May, citing public pressure over how he handled the hiring of then-first lady Mary Easley in 2005 and her promotion in 2008. He and Chancellor James Oblinger have maintained there was no wrongdoing.

Nielsen is preparing to take over responsibilities as a faculty member of the College of Natural Resources. During that six-month period, he will continue to draw the approximately $300,000 annual salary he did as provost. Once he becomes a faculty member in November, his salary will drop to $156,000.

Trustees Chairman Bob Jordan asked Oblinger to review that arrangement.

“This type of transition package is widely used in academia, but these are extraordinary budgetary times,” Jordan said in a statement. “I am asking the chancellor to review the contract to ensure compliance with university policies, rules and regulations.”

Jordan became chairman of the trustees board after the former head, McQueen Campbell, resigned after his role in Easley's employment was also questioned. Campbell has likewise denied wrongdoing.

Despite calls for her resignation, Mary Easley has refused to step down from her $170,000-a-year job.

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed Mary Easley's personnel records and any records the State Auditor's Office might have from any investigation into her hiring or the N.C. State provost's office.

Campbell was a close friend of former Gov. Mike Easley, who twice appointed him to the N.C. State board. The News & Observer in Raleigh has reported that Campbell flew the former governor in his private plane, but the flights weren't disclosed on campaign finance reports.

The federal grand jury has subpoenaed Mike Easley's travel records while in office and is looking into other dealings he had with friends and contributors.