Local News

Officials cut former NCSU chancellor's pay

Posted August 14, 2009 3:21 p.m. EDT

— The University of North Carolina Board of Governors voted Friday to immediately cut the pay of former North Carolina State University Chancellor James Oblinger.

Oblinger resigned in June over questions over his role in N.C. State's hiring of Mary Easley, the wife of former Gov. Mike Easley, to a lucrative job in 2005.

Mary Easley's hiring by the university is part of a federal grand jury investigation into the dealings the former governor had with friends and contributors while in office. Two other high-ranking N.C. State officials also resigned amid the controversy.

Oblinger agreed to return to a teaching position in the Department of Food Science after a six-month leave and was to continue drawing his $420,000 annual salary during that time.

The Board of Governors voted 17-10 to reduce his salary to that of a regular faculty member for the remaining four months of his leave. N.C. State officials will determine that salary, the board said.

The vote came the day after the board discussed limiting payouts to former administrators who retire or move to faculty positions.

UNC President Erskine Bowles wants more controls placed on so-called "retreat rights," saying they are too generous and need more accountability and definition. He recommended that paid leaves be limited to six months instead of the year now allowed and that all payout packages be approved by a campus Board of Trustees and possibly the Board of Governors as well.

Chancellors defended the current leave policy, saying retreat rights are an important part of the compensation package they can offer to attract top talent to administrative positions.

The issue gained attention this summer because of a pay deal Oblinger negotiated for former N.C. State Provost Larry Nielsen, who resigned in May over Mary Easley's hiring. The N.C. State Board of Trustees voided the payout in June, saying it never approved the deal.