Breaking News: The end of a presidency

Curt Tompkins, the longtime president of Michigan Technological University, announced his decision to leave the school in March 2004. However, the governing Board of Control decided later that month in a special meeting in Chicago to immediately terminate his contract.

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I was in Houghton reporting on the board meeting via teleconference. After three hours of meeting behind closed doors -- both virtual and real -- the board announced its decision. The midday decision was a surprise to the newspaper staff, many people on campus and myself.

After the meeting, I returned to the office to write for the Saturday morning edition. Although I was nine hours away by car from Chicago, I was able to interview board members and President Tompkins by telephone.

Earlier, when Tompkins announced his decision to leave the university, he declined to elaborate on the reasons behind his departure. In my interview, Tompkins reveals the reason -- he was asked to by board chairman David Brule.

With key interviews in place, I put together an initial version of the story. I posted an initial version of the main story on the Gazette Web site shortly before the evening TV newscast. I went out to the campus to gather more response to the decision speaking with students and faculty.

In the Saturday, March 27 edition of The Gazette, I wrote three comprehensive articles about the board's decision:

Tompkins Fired
Legacy includes new programs, facilities
MTU students, faculty react to firing

After the initial coverage, I wrote a follow-up story looking at President Tompkins' severance package, which remained intact because the board's termination of the president's contract.

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