EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The University of Oregon chose to send off its resigning president with a $940,000 settlement after his quick two-year tenure. But it didn’t have to.
The settlement money to Michael Gottfredson came from private donors, not tuition or tax dollars. It also guaranteed that Gottfredson will not pursue any legal claims against the university.
The Register-Guard reports the UO Board of Trustees handed Gottfredson the settlement to acknowledge his contributions.
“The members of the board agreed that the separation agreement was fair, and that the consideration was appropriate for his service to the university,” UO Board of Trustees Chairman Chuck Lillis told the newspaper on Friday.
Had the university fired Gottfredson for just cause instead, he would be due no special payment, but a firing without cause would mean the board owed Gottfredson a year’s pay.
That’s what they ended up spending: The $940,000 figure is the rough equivalent of one year of pay as president, and one year of pay as a sociology professor, for which Gottfredson had indefinite tenure.
The university’s employment records show that Gottfredson secured tenure in September 2012 as a sociology professor, with the status of being on unpaid leave from that job while he held the president’s post.
His pay in that professorship would be $360,003 a year. His presidential salary was $540,000 in total annual compensation.
The source of the payments, Lillis told the Register-Guard, was in “unrestricted donations” to the university’s foundation.
People make tax-deductible donations to the university in two ways. They donate directly to the university, or they donate to the University of Oregon Foundation.
The foundation is a nonprofit agency with about $900 million in assets that generates annual income for the university to use on a wide range of expenses. Donors can set restrictions on how the UO uses their money, or they can make “unrestricted” donations.
In his resignation letter dated Wednesday, Gottfredson said he wanted to spend more time with his family.