August 12th, 2014
The University of Oregon’s new Board of Trustees completed its first high-profile piece of business last week, accepting UO President Michael Gottfredson’s sudden resignation and then voting unanimously to give him a $940,000 severance package. The generosity of the parting gift raises both eyebrows and questions, including whether the old state Board of Higher Education would have handled the matter differently.
Gottfredson quit with one day’s notice. Most people who do that get a cardboard box and a suggestion that they not bother asking for a letter of recommendation. In the case of a voluntary resignation, which Board Chairman Chuck Lillis insists it was, the university was under no obligation to pay Gottfredson anything.
Gottfredson was employed by the UO not only as president, but also as a member of the university faculty. He was on unpaid leave from his faculty position while fulfilling his presidential duties. It’s conceivable that Gottfredson could have quit the $540,000-a-year presidency to join the ranks of the active faculty at a salary of $360,003 a year.