Some of the provisions in Mr. Er-
ickson’s contract appear very much
informed by recent events at Penn
Mr. Erickson’s contract also
states that he can be terminated
for cause if he is indicted for any
felony. Of the eight counts that Mr.
Spanier faces, five are felonies.
Mr. Erickson’s contract goes on
to specify that he can no longer
work at the university if he is fired
for cause. Applied to Mr. Spanier,
that provision alone would save
Penn State his salary of $600,000
a year as a professor in the department of human development and
It is often controversial, but not
uncommon, for a president to be
fired or resign under pressure,
only to move on to a high-paying
professorship. Richard H. Herman resigned as chancellor of the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009 and now earns
$212,000 a year as a professor
there. He is on the campus about
once a week and does little teaching compared with his colleagues,
the Chicago Tribune reports.
As Mr. Spanier’s legal battle con-
tinues, the question of his status as
a tenured professor lingers. Larry
“Whether or not, in addition to
being fired as president, his con-
duct merits action on his tenure
status really should be left to the
procedures Penn State has devel-
oped over the last 50 or 60 years,”
Mr. Backer says.
For a tenured faculty member to
be dismissed, Penn State’s policy
manual states, he or she must be
given written notice from an administrator “within a reasonable
time” after the occurrence of events
that might give rise to termination.
As of now, it appears, no such notice has been given to Mr. Spanier.
But university officials will not confirm that. “These are personnel decisions that are, for the time being,
considered confidential,” Ms. Powers wrote in an e-mail.
Adequate cause for removing a
tenured faculty member at Penn
State includes “moral turpitude,”
“grave misconduct,” and “lack of
competence or failure to perform.”
Mr. Backer says there is a “sharp
split” on the issue among faculty,
“Spanier really hasn’t had his day
to say his piece,” Mr. Backer says.
“And until that happens, you have
to be careful about judgment.”
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