Ousted UT chancellor to get $1.33M in buyout deal

Press release from University of Tennessee

On June 5, the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees Audit and Compliance Committee will consider a recommendation by UT President Joe DiPietro to approve a separation agreement and payment of $1.33 million to former UT Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport.

If approved, her employment with the University will end June 5. No taxpayer dollars, no student tuition or fees, and no donor funds will be used to fund the separation payment.

The payment is a significant reduction of the amount the University would be contractually obligated to pay Davenport if she continues her employment in her tenured faculty position. Davenport’s appointment letter allowed her to return to the faculty in a tenured appointment for an indefinite period of time after serving as chancellor. The University would be obligated to pay her about $2 million in salary and benefits during the first four years of her faculty appointment. Beginning in the fifth year of her faculty appointment, the University would be obligated to pay her an annual salary of $164,632.

“I believe it is important for us to reach this agreement to allow everyone to move forward,” said DiPietro.

In December 2017, the Board approved a policy limiting future return to the faculty salaries to not more than 125 percent of the highest salary of full-time faculty in the department with the same discipline and rank (excluding Governor’s Chairs and other special appointments).

Further from the News Sentinel:

“I believe it is important for us to reach this agreement to allow everyone to move forward,” DiPietro said in the statement.

DiPietro fired Davenport after just over a year into her leadership with a scathing termination letter that cited a litany of grievances he had with her performance on the job, including what he described as poor communication skills as well as a lack of organization, attention to detail and timely follow-up. Still, DiPietro offered to keep Davenport on as a tenured faculty member in the College of Communication and Information.

….Should the settlement be approved, it will be covered by funds from licensing for use of the university’s name and logo as well by interest income, (UT spokeswoman Tiffiny) Carpenter said.

 The university system experienced better-than-expected returns from its investments this year, Carpenter said, and the settlement will be paid off by one-time funding — funding that would likely otherwise be steered into priority projects on campus.

Through the settlement agreement, so long as it’s approved, UT Knoxville will actually be saving money, Carpenter added.

“If (Davenport) had stayed on as a tenured professor, she would have been on payroll and her salary and benefits would have been paid with tuition dollars and state dollars,” Carpenter said.

8 Responses to Ousted UT chancellor to get $1.33M in buyout deal

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    Leslie Parsley says:

    So, no matter what, a seemingly very popular chancellor, except in the opinion of UT’s president, is thrown under the bus. Essentially she was fired for the same reasons she was hired. I think the board should take a closer look at DiPietro.

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    Tommy Ray McAnally says:


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    Steve L. says:

    Employees need to be competent at their jobs and popular with their bosses. She was neither. What she is now: Unemployed. Perhaps the next Chancellor will carefully study why their predecessors were fired and avoid making the same mistakes.

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      Bob Fischer says:

      Actually, she was extremely competent, she just spoke truth to power. Her bosses wanted to cipher off maintenance money into the pockets of their cronies. She said no. She recognized Currie was a mistake, she exercised her power without clearing it through channels. She did the smart and correct thing , but it made some power brokers angry. They weren’t technically her bosses, but they had the power to get her fired. Had she stayed, she was a real threat to the power structure within the state. She was good at what she did and understood the University’s role at several levels.

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        Jere Ownby says:

        Are you aware of any published stories that flesh out what you write here? You refer to a maintenance expenditure issue and a “Currie” issue, but I really do not know any of the details or what you are referring to. Do you know of anyone who has written this story up explaining exactly what the internal fights within UT are about?

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          Bob Fischer says:

          Governor Haslam wanted to privatize the maintenance staff at state colleges and universities. Chancellor Davenport was one of several University leaders that said no. This was a very unpopular decision with several members of the Board of Trustees. It should be a fairly straightforward google search. Athletic Director Currie had a short tumultuous tenure at U.T. He was a Davenport hire and fire. This too was not favorably viewed by many with money and power. Again, this is a pretty straightforward google search. Both the faculty senate and the student government association condemned her firing. By most accounts, she was good at her job and her power was likely to grow exponentially with experience.

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      Jere Ownby says:

      Steve L. says:
      June 3, 2018 at 4:45 pm
      Employees need to be competent at their jobs and popular with their bosses. She was neither.

      1. Obviously, she was not popular with her boss. I do not know if the fault for that falls on him or her or both, but, yes she was not popular with her boss.
      2. How do you know that she was or was not competent at her job. I have no idea if she was or wasn’t but it is time for everyone in commenting in the public sphere to cite some factual evidence for their assertions. Your saying she was not competent means nothing if you do not cite some sort of
      to support your assertions. We have WAY TOO MANY opinions floating around with no factual support at all.
      The truth is that not citing any facts to support your assertion makes your assertion doubly suspect.

      This is not how the Democracy Game is correctly played.

      As the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but everyone is not entitled to their own facts.”

      3. It is time for people to be responsible for the words that they put into a public forum. You need to put your full name on opinions that you place out in public. You are not ashamed of anything that you are going to say, are you? So, sign your published opinions with your complete name.

      I am,
      Jere Ownby

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    Steve L. says:

    My facts as to whether she was competent? Simple, Jere. There is only one set of facts, only one set of opinions that matters on her competency. Her supervisors, Dipietro. The multiple written warnings that she received from him and her subsequent termination notice are well documented and were released to the public. A paper trail that a Boeing 747 could land on. And those FACTS are good enough for her termination and clearly establish her lack of competency at the most basic skills a employee needs. Understanding the chain of command. In my mind a competent person would not have vexed their supervisor in so many ways. He conducted, as I read, multiple meetings encouraging her to return to the path he needed her to be on. That the University needed her to be on. Do you have a job? A supervisor? Pretty basic stuff here. I feel like I am over explaining, now. So I will stop.

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