Tompkins not left wanting upon departure
By RYAN OLSON
The Daily Mining Gazette
March 31, 2004
HOUGHTON When the Michigan Tech University Board of Control
fired President Curt Tompkins last Friday, they left him far from
Board members told The Daily Mining Gazette that Tompkins
contract, which was revised in 1999, could pay him more than $600,000
in salary, sabbatical and deferred compensation.
It was something already decided when we did
the contract with him, said board member Claude Verbal, of
Fountain Hills, Ariz. There was no surprises as far as myself
or any other board members.
Tompkins was could not be reached for comment this
Under the revised pact, Tompkins will draw his salary
and benefits for a year after his contract has been terminated by
the board. Last year, Tompkins earned $202,150, reduced from
$210,940 because of budget reductions.
Tompkins, as a tenured member of Techs faculty,
also had the option of taking a year off for a sabbatical and receive
a years salary.
But because he didnt take time off during his
12-year tenure as president, he is now entitled to the pay. Under
the contract, Tompkins also remains a faculty member at Tech although
its unclear if he intends to teach.
In addition, a 1999 university press release states
that a deferred compensation fund established by the contract would
increase $45,000 each year from contributions from the Michigan
Based on the press release, the fund could now contain
as much as $210,000.
Board Chairman David Brule of Iron Mountain said the board wasnt
in a position to default on its agreement with Tompkins.
We have to honor it and its something
we obviously want to do, Brule said.
Brule confirmed a statement made by Tompkins last
week that he asked the president on March 16 to send a letter seeking
a leadership transition.
The Board of Control has the responsibility
to understand when its time to move on and collectively I
think we felt it was time to move on, Brule said.
Board Vice President Rodger Kershner of Bloomfield
Hills said the compensation package included in the 1999 contract
was an enticement for Tompkins to stay on at the university for
at least another five years.
The board had renewed Tompkins contract for
three more years, through June 2007.
Its not unreasonable I dont think
in light of whats typically necessary to attract a chief executive
of any large organization, Kershner said. He did all
the university asked him to earn that.
If Tompkins had resigned, he wouldnt be eligible
for most of those benefits. Tompkins reiterated Friday that he didnt
Tompkins in the past has said that he had no plans
to quit, including at the time of a December faculty and staff no-confidence
vote which he lost.
Kershner said the loss of compensation may have been
why Tompkins stayed.
It could have been that he was standing up for
principle and telling the world that he thought he was doing a good
job as president and was going to demonstrate that conviction until
he was forced to go or he could have been thinking about the sacrifice
he was going to make by resigning, or some combination, Kershner
Brule said Tompkins statements at the time of
the no-confidence vote were likely a reaction to the fact that he
wasnt going to walk away amid criticism.
I think he was reacting, which I dont
blame him for, he said.
Verbal said that it would have been in Tompkins
best financial interests to have the board fire him than resign.
It was time for him to move on and its
the best way for it to happen, I think, Verbal said.
Brule pointed out that the deferred compensation funding
comes from the Michigan Tech Fund from off-budget funds.
A Tech press release from July 1999 notes that Tompkins
pledged to return the money to the Leadership Excellence fund as
a charitable remainder trust.
Although the contract mentions that Tompkins would
have to serve through five years of his contract, an attorney said
the former president can receive the funds because of the three-year
contract extension, according to Brule.