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Several state universities may have violated state laws or have not acted in the best interests of the institution when handing out severance pay to outgoing university presidents. This was revealed on Friday by state auditors.
One of those listed in the audit is the Missouri State University. According to the audit report, former president Mike Nietzel returned to the faculty with a high salary. He was also paid $80,211 for taking a semester off after stepping down as university president during the summer of 2010.
Auditors also observed the practice of state universities of keeping their former presidents on their payroll for a particular period of time without assigning them specific and justified duties.
The report also said that if a former president’s past service is recognized by the university by paying him or her continuously, it may be unlawful because state laws prohibit payment for a service that was previously rendered.
The audit report was finally released Friday after state auditors have spent months in reviewing presidential contracts beginning 2005 to 2010 at the 13 public universities in the state. The work was started during the term of former State Auditor Susan Montee.
The report questioned the post-presidential compensation package of MSU for its former president Mike Nietzel.
State auditors said that he was paid $160,423 annually when he returned to the faculty or around $68,000 more compared to the highest-paid professor in his academic department. According to the auditors, the amount appears to be excessive.
They also noted the fact that Nietzel “was under no legal obligation to perform any services” during his paid leave of absence.