Dr. Lloyd Jacobs’ early departure from the presidency of the University of Toledo — and the amount he‘ll be paid to leave the job — has led to anger among some on campus and fostered speculation about what really went on behind the scenes.
The university announced June 20 that Dr. Jacobs would leave his position Monday, after announcing in March that he would step down effective June 30, 2015, a year before his contract ends. The board named Nagi Naganathan, dean of the College of Engineering, as an interim replacement on Monday.
There was a degree of sticker shock when the UT Board of Trustees also amended Dr. Jacobs‘ contract to pay him during a year-long sabbatical and when he returns as a professor. The contract would pay him more than $1.3 million over three years, and has perks such as gas for a university-provided vehicle and maintenance for the president’s residence.
DIGITAL DOWNLOAD: Copy of agreement between UT Board of Trustees and Dr. Jacobs
The payout had a particular sting for faculty, because contract negotiations with the American Association of University Professors have dragged on for three years, union President Harvey Wolff said.
“At a time when faculty members haven’t been given a raise for three years ... it seems excessive in terms of the perks and things he got,” he said.
Students also raised questions. Clayton Notestine, president of UT’s Student Government, said that students invest time and money in the university, and are now paying for a person to leave his position. Mr. Notestine said the concern was both the amount Dr. Jacobs will get, and that there‘s been little communication about why he is leaving.
“It's very disconcerting for the students,” he said.
Attempts to reach Dr. Jacobs Friday were unsuccessful. He has not commented on his impending departure since it was announced.
While the university has said that he chose to leave to take a fellowship in Washington, many believe the board of trustees wanted him gone.
“It‘s clear that, for whatever reason, they wanted him out as president,” Mr. Wolff said.
That’s not true, said Joseph H. Zerbey IV, board of trustees chairman and The Blade’s president and general manager. Mr. Zerbey spoke highly about Dr. Jacobs on Friday, and said the board did not ask him to leave.
But the information vacuum has been filled by, at times, wild speculation on campus.
“I think it plays out in all matters that if information is not provided, speculation will occur,” said Karen Hoblet, president of the UT Faculty Senate.
Mr. Zerbey defended the amended contract for Dr. Jacobs, noting that the outgoing president’s payment is mostly what he would have earned had he stayed, and that the board voted for the contract because, “he deserved to be treated generously as a reward for what he did here.”
“People that are not close to the situation say ’My goodness! It‘s an awful lot of money‘,” Mr. Zerbey said. “Well it is, but it pales in comparison to other [presidential compensation packages].”
When E. Gordon Gee retired as president of The Ohio State University last year after comments regarding Catholics and other universities, he received a five-year retirement package worth $5.8 million. Ms. Hoblet agreed on that point, saying large retirement payments for university presidents have become standard practice.
Not everyone is upset. Dan Saevig, UT’s associate vice president for alumni relations, said he hadn’t heard a single comment, either positive or negative, about Dr. Jacobs‘ amended contract.
“Sometimes, you’ll have a hot-button issue where people will be really, really upset and will reach out to you immediately, and they will say they are not happy about this,” he said. “That has not been the case.”