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Dean of Students

Flanagan a bank breaker, Dietz a change maker?

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Early last fall, the Illinois State community welcomed a new president, and what was supposed to be a new era. Seven months later, Dr. Timothy Flanagan officially resigned, putting an end to what is now the shortest tenure of any Illinois State president.

Over the course of the year, a confusing series of reports and allegations began to grow. These included being noticeably absent from two committee meetings pertaining to the university budget and an alleged altercation with an employee. Despite these allegations, the abrupt ending to Dr. Flanagan’s presidency was a shock and a sad outcome to what was once a presidency filled with optimism.

Not since David K. Berlo (1971-1973) has an Illinois State president resigned under such negative circumstances. With few clear answers, we are left to question what exactly went wrong with our 18th president, and what his departure means for the university going forward.

When he met with this editorial board at the beginning of the semester, Flanagan appeared as though he was not only completely dedicated to Illinois State, but that he had a clear vision for the future. With plans to increase diversity, scholarships and competition with larger universities, Flanagan’s goals seemed admirable. Labeling his position as the “capstone job” of his career, it appeared at the time as though Flanagan planned to serve at this university for many years to come.

In hindsight, Flanagan was clearly not the right fit for this university. The transition from leading a smaller university to a larger one proved to be too much, and it didn’t take long for this to become apparent. While little is conclusively known about Flanagan’s altercation with a former grounds superintendent, what we do know about the failure to attend committee hearings is inexcusable. There is perhaps no better way to stunt the growth of a university than failure to lobby for funds, making the absences very troubling.

While the change of leadership will likely benefit the university long term, the resignation of Flanagan is not without consequences. At the Board of Trustees meeting on Saturday, it was disclosed that ISU will be paying Flanagan $480,418, the total salary for the remainder of this year and next. This, on top of the salary that will be paid to ISU’s new president, makes an already tight budget even tighter.

Considering these consequences and Flanagan’s short term here, it is impossible to not wonder what exactly went wrong in the hiring process. According to the Pantagraph, Illinois State spent $89,000 to hire the Greenwood/Asher & Associates firm to find proper candidates for the position, a process which took months. With so many resources and time devoted to the task, the candidate selected should have led ISU for years. Instead, the best that can be hoped for going forward is a reevaluation of the process so that this never happens again.

For now however, the outlook for our 19th president, Dr. Larry Dietz, seems very positive. Previously handpicked by Bowman and a well-loved member of the community, Dietz is a natural fit for the position, one that many were advocating for even before Flanagan. Dietz will provide stability and leadership during this tough time, as it seems the perfect person for the job was right in front of us this entire time.

In the future, the hiring of Flanagan may prove to be very costly in more ways than one, but for now the ISU community can take comfort in knowing that the leadership of the university moving forward is in very capable hands.

4 Responses

  1. Karen Huelsman

    I hope the student newspaper continues to investigate this resignation and its “golden parachute.” Your headline gave me high hopes, but your piece did not follow through. Flanagan’s payout is a bank breaker for all of the Illinois taxpayers who expect some service for the 5% we pay in state income taxes. Please shine a light on this very poor decision by the Board of Trustees to reward Flanagan for stepping aside. I take the $480,000 payout as a slap in the face.
    Please look into Dietz’ contract before the ink dries. He should not be eligible for a huge payout should something go awry with his tenure.
    Thank you.
    Karen Huelsman

    Reply
    • Stewart Winger

      I could not help noticing that in 1995 Wallace made $131,700 . There can be no reason why our current Presidents should ask for more than that, adjusted for inflation. One can hardly pretend that current pay scales are market driven unless the morbidity rate of qualified administrators has increased sharply in the interim. (It took what, five minutes? for us to replace Flanagan. Hardly a sign of scarcity.) Let’s put the “non” back in “non-profit.” This would likely increase the quality of the applicant pool by eliminating people seeking the job for the wrong reasons. If you won’t do the job for 200k and change, you should not be allowed to do it for 400k.

      Reply
  2. Brie Collucci

    Timothy Flanagan was formally charged with disorderly conduct. But look a little deeper irregardless of the litigious climate in which we live. It does not take much effort to interpret the amount of money disgraced former Illinois State University Timothy Flanagan chose to pocket. Though any free thinking has to elect the protection of alleging their opinion herein, I am confident that stronger, valid and reliable allegations of misconduct lay beneath the payout.

    First, naivety aside, the public has to remember that Timothy Flanagan had a bonafied choice on December 5, 2013 to restrain himself. He chose not to.

    He had a choice to confess and apologize for his conduct unbecoming an employee for the state of Illinois the following work day/week. Instead. the superintendent of grounds was chosenly fired on 12/10/13 for involuntarily becoming the target of Flanagan’s assault.

    Flanagan had over fifteen weeks to choose the high road. He had free will without restraint to approach the university administration, confess what he did to the superintendent, and develop an action plan for reconciliation and rehiring in accordance with suitable due process approved by union contracts and university improvisation. Flanagan chose to to do nothing. Across nearly one hundred days Flanagan’s free will to elect or reject “choice” was intact.

    With no intention to sound pretentious or snobbish, I am very familiar with the culture and structure in both public and private colleges and universities. I say that only to demonstrate that the quantity of words and time I pay to this matter, though not appraised at $480018.00. Flanagan could have deliberately chosen to salvage some integrity and respectability becoming by requesting a prorated settlement. Of course this would mean he was already paid what his contract prescribed. Under an annual salary of $350,000 Flanagan’s 229 days of service as president of the university credited between August 15, 2013 and March 22, 2014, results in pre-tax daily income of $958.40, and a total prorated and pretax salary of $219,589.

    Flanagan had choices. If you praise the half million dollar settlement in comparison to a cost of 1.3 million dollars in legal/court costs, you miss the greater substantial point. The matter would have never come to such a hilt had Flanagan made choices consistent with the bare minimal integrity asked of a university president.

    Nonetheless, Flanagan used zero character to exacerbate his contract to the border of extorting the University of Illinois. He brought his timing and seizure of monies to a maxim of unearned greed that should be coined “FLANA-GAIN”.

    Conveniently, his timing and seizure pursuant to contract came less than 48 hours prior to getting formally charged with criminal misconduct. He is entitled to get paid for the amount of weeks he worked — no one can dispute this fact. A 30 day eviction notice on the university house and car is reasonable.

    No doubt $480K was a settlement sought by Flanagan and aggressively pushed to fruition by his attorneys. His choice to seek maximum settlement monies was a choice made to the detriment of the public who pay his salary in taxes (at least in part), and with regard to self and attorney interest. A physical assault should not enable a financial assault on more people. He had an opportunity to make a choice to send a symbolic message at Illinois State University.

    Although Greenwood/Archer & Associates were hired to find viable candidates to interview for the presidential post, there is a lot to be said that an average, free-thinking person found out just as much and likely more about him during his University of Illinois service.

    For example, last September Martha Coakley ordered a special investigation by the state treasurer into the alleged misspending of university funds by a junior administrator. Specifically Assistant for Alumni Relations, Robert Walmsley, was fired from Framingham State University in June 2013.

    The university inexplicably failed to report knowledge of the missing funds for over three months. The news broke in late August 2013. The news disseminated like a parody of how state universities feel entitled to hide public information. The parody starred the Framingham State University director of human resources and a campus policeman. Aptly, HR tried to conceal the identity of the alleged over-spending employee and specifics about the six-figure balk, behind the tailor-made “matter of national security” line that has come to define unjustified concealment in higher education: “Its a personnel matter.” Meanwhile, campus police, who reports directly to university human resources and not the state police barracks, named Walmsley and more details about the spending gaff.

    All news coverage reported that an employee, three months removed of getting fired, spent as much as $167,000 on the university’s professional charge card system. Human Resources and general council Rita Colucci added that they (Walmsley) may not have spent the entire amount. In fact the case file shows that Walmsley spent none of it. Having reached April 2014, an unprecedented ten months removed from incident without any update on one of the largest scale grand larcenies by a university in recent history, it is reliably conclusive there is no file.

    Lets get real, $167,000 is a suspiciously large sum of money for a junior administrator to rack up. This is particularly true for someone like Walmsley, whose job was to solicit funds from alumni to fund university endeavors, while under the very high scrutiny and deep surveillance, in due consideration of Framingham State University’s poor financial track record, which had led to audits and accounting investigations by the commonwealth of Massachusetts.

    Suspicions are abound on who spent these monies. Examination of recent criminal charges filed against former Framingham State University President Timothy Flanagan, who happened to officially leave Framingham State University in June 2013, reveals much to be investigated.

    It is also worth mentioning that Timothy Flanagan saw to it that the Vice President of Academic Affairs Linda Vaden-Goad be hired in 2010, after she was under investigation in a well-documented civil lawsuit for discrimination against a colleague of mine & full-time faculty member and 40 year state employee Rosalie Appel. According to the case status PRIOR to Vaden-Goad’s hiring by Flanagan, Vaden-Goad and two other defendant’s characterized their own behavior toward Rosalie Appel as punitive and malicious. Because Appel protected her interests in court, Vaden-Goad et al., “…retaliated against her for filing this lawsuit by subjecting her to an escalating series of disciplinary measures. Defendants do not dispute, for purposes of this appeal, that Appel successfully established a prima facie case of discrimination (See Appel v. Spiridon).

    Vaden-Goad retaliated by accessing Appel’s medical records without Appel’s permission, against regulations enforced by HIPPA, and compelled Ms. Appel to imperatively have a psychological evaluation by a university appointed psychologist on threat of termination. On declining, Vaden-Goad aggressively pursued her termination.

    Nonetheless Vaden-Goad, someone deserving to be sidelined, and someone who should have chosen to remove herself from higher education to clean uo her act, was smoothly transferred to Framingham State University and promoted to Vice President of Academic Affairs by then Framingham State University president Timothy Flanagan.

    According to court records, the “controlling question” was “whether the defendants show indisputably that they would have taken the same adverse actions against a different administrator or faculty member, namely implementation and enforcement of a university appointed psychologist, based on unlawful access to Appel’s medical records. In addition, would someone else endure the same progressive retaliation that Appel experienced, even in the absence of her protected speech.” The district court denied Vaden-Gosd et al. qualified immunity on Appel’s First Amendment claim as the actions of Vaden-Goad et al. were motivated, implemented and enforced by impermissible retaliation.

    Appel also claimed that defendants retaliated against her for bringing a lawsuit in and of itself in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that they violated her Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process right to privacy. So why hire someone who has a track record of discrimination.

    These facts establish a more plausible blueprint on there whereabouts of these missing $167,000 in monies. A September 2013 settlement hearing called for monetary damages that are much more comparable to the missing Framingham State University funds.
    Keep in mind that the Flanagan is a plausible suspect, especially alleged plausible when considering that subtracting $167,000 plus interest from the $480418 resignation settlement nearly equals Flanagan’s annual salary Illinois State University salary of $350,000.

    These allegations herein are just that allegations; but they are very informed to allege Flanagan or Vaden-Goad may be fully responsible for the missing $167,000 from abusing the Framingham State University charge card. Assuming that Flanagan most likely had to resign at the Uuniversity of Illinois for more than a simple assault, it is possible and alleged that FSU discovered Flanagan or Vaden-Goad was responsible for the overspending, and moved against Flanagan to retrieve the overspending amount after Flanagan was under investigation. Higher education in MA and IL, between June 2013 and April 2014 is a shameful and sorry drive down the low road by self-entitled elitists who exhibit criminal behavior with no remorse.

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