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August 11, 2011

Outgoing UVM President Shuns Governor's Advice to Return Severance Pay

Fogel04 During a weekend phone call, Gov. Peter Shumlin urged outgoing University of Vermont president Dan Fogel (pictured right) to give back a portion of his more than $600,000 severance package as a way to dampen the outrage that some leading politicians and the public have had over his golden parachute.

"I told him that I would like to see him set aside a portion of his severance pay that he'll receive to set up a scholarship program that would allow more Vermont students to attend UVM," said Shumlin during a lunchtime meeting with Seven Days. "I though that this would help put him, and the university, back in the good graces of Vermonters."

There has been increased anger directed at UVM's board of trustees, in particular the legislative trustees, for granting Fogel the equivalent of a $35,400-a-month severance package that will last 17 months. At the end of that time period, Fogel is anticipated to return to UVM as an English professor, earning $195,000 a year — $80,000 more than the next-highest-paid professor in the department.

Shumlin told Seven Days that he talked to the former president on Sunday.

"I really feel it would be the right thing to do, to undo the damage to his legacy and to the university," said Shumlin. The pair spoke for close to half an hour, the governor said.

So, how did Fogel react?

"Let's just say that my recommendation was not well received," said Shumlin, " which I think is a real missed opportunity." 

Fogel confirmed the phone call occurred and told Seven Days he didn't heed the gov's advice because it would set a bad precedent for future presidents — and send a bad message to the national academic marketplace.

"Governor Shumlin urged me — in the interest of 'protecting my legacy' — to give back some of my severance," Fogel wrote in an email to Seven Days. "He asked me to consider his advice — I said that I would, reiterated that I appreciated the way he and others felt, but that I thought the kind of gesture he was recommending would satisfy only a small portion of the critics, and moreover would send a very bad signal to the marketplace — the message that even a successful president will in the future be hard-pressed to secure a post-presidential package that is quite modest by national standards."

Fogel said, in turn, that he appealed to Shumlin to be a strong advocate for UVM, rather than simply a critic, to help recruit a bold president who can carry the  university forward.

"I appealed to the governor to do everything he can to support the university and the board in recruiting another strong — and we hope even stronger — leader, and to remember that his bully pulpit as governor can send a strong message to potential candidates, for good or for ill, about Vermont's aspirations for its one research university. He said he has every intention of doing so, and would," wrote Fogel.

During a midday news conference with reporters, Shumlin said he was not interested in punishing UVM financially in the state budget for what he deemed an exorbitant pay package for Fogel, and for other top university officials.

Shumlin said he understands that granting a one-year, paid leave of absence might be a standard contract provision in academia, but the governor said contracts can be written to limit severance pay if an executive resigns from office under a cloud of controversy — as did Fogel. Fogel resigned his post effective July 31, just weeks before the results of an investigation focused on his wife, Rachel Kahn-Fogel, was to be completed.

UVM launched its investigation following Seven Daysinquiries into Kahn-Fogel's influence over the doctoral studies and day-to-day employment of Michael Schultz, the school's associate vice president for development and alumni relations. The university's investigation focused on whether, as a result of the relationship, UVM resources were used inappropriately or UVM workplace policies were violated.

A report released yesterday found that neither Kahn-Fogel nor Schultz had violated any laws or university policies during their relationship. However, the report did find that the personnel decisions made by Kahn-Fogel and Pres. Fogel created a negative workplace environment and lowered morale in the development office.

UVM revealed yesterday that it had agreed to pay Schultz his $155,000 salary through the end of 2012, as well as health care benefits and free tuition for his kids. In exchange, Schultz agreed not to sue UVM, and vice versa. Schultz had been on the receiving end of Kahn-Fogel's affections for more than six years and was a central figure in the months-long investigation into Kahn-Fogel's actions at the university and her interactions with key staff.

Shumlin told Seven Days he supports legislation that would seek to remove sitting legislators from the boards of UVM and the Vermont state colleges.

"There is an inherent conflict in serving on the board while at the same time appropriating money to the university," said Shumlin. He added that while some lawmakers serve on the boards of nonprofits, serving on the board of a major university or state college, which comes to the legislature each year seeking millions of dollars in assistance, is a different story.

"Are you doing what's best for taxpayers, or are you delivering on what the president wanted you to deliver as a trustee?" asked Shumlin.

Fogel looks like the adult in this conversation.
Shumlin has in effect asked Fogel have you stopped beating your wife yet? Shumlin is piling on does he really believe that a world class university is built on peanuts? Fogel i s a flawed human but we must look at his record of accomplishments. Raising Faculty salaries building new buildings establishing the Honors college.
He shook the money maker for UVM, Burlington and VT.

Shumlin would prefer that UVM return to a cow pasture?
Cmon the presiddent of Yale makes 1.2 million the average Salaries of professors at the Ivys 180,000.

The quality of life the Shumlin is offering is high real estate costs, high medical cost, high taxes and low pay.

Shumlin has been doing nothing but bashing the University he should be the University's biggest fan touting high pay high levels of achievement and the Happiest life style in America our open minds are open for business.

But the petty mind of Shumlin can't see past his next election cycle.

I find it interesting that Shumlin believes it's a conflict of interest for legislators to sit on the board of UVM and other Vermont colleges, but not the board of non-profits or other organizations. Now, I'm not familiar with which legislators sit on which boards, but I know that it's not only the colleges and UVM that ask for millions of dollars...
As annoyed that I am with Fogel's severance pay and the high salary he'll earn when he returns as a professor, I do understand some of his excuses. Wouldn't it be nice though for him to make a large donation to scholarship funds out of the "goodness" of his own heart? Or could we just make sure the Chatty Cats call him in the middle of his dinner as often as they call me?

Fogel's the last one Shumlin should be asking for money. His first call should be to whomever instigated this nonsense - none of which has done anyone any good at the end of the day IMO.

"I appealed to the governor to do everything he can to support the university and the board in recruiting another strong president."

Boy this guy lays it on thick.

Fogel and the trustees have made UVM into a compensation back scratching club in the administrative levels. The consequence of which was student protest over budget cuts and tuition hikes.


You compared UVM to Ivy League schools and said Vermont offers high taxes among other things.

This from the Joint Fiscal Office's Tax Study, Vol. 2

These are the estimated state taxes for a family with AGI of $357,934 in VT and four states with Ivy schools:

$3,273 NH
$19,838 CT
$19,923 MA
$23,054 VT
$25,044 NY

The study did not include property taxes but that's not really an issue here because in most cases Ivy presidents get free housing.

As you can see, other than NH, the difference in taxes owed is rather modest and unlikely to be a factor in a decision about a job at UVM.

Well, at least now we know who the most powerful public officer in Vermont is.

Dear Buster,
We are not an ivy league school. We are a private school but still receive state funding. Fogel built buildings that UVM didn't need nor want. Aside from those great accomplishments that you listed he also cut two UVM sports programs, baseball being the oldest program which affected a lot of Vermonters. Please refer to the YouTube video titled "the Davis center: precisely what we need". Unless you were a student during Fogels time there then I wouldn't be so quick to post a comment like yours.

Shumlin is on the UVM board of trustees, yet he admits that he did not attend the meetings where Fogel's compensation was negotiated with the board.

Shumlin ignored his duties as a trustee and willingly decided not to participate in the deliberation process BEFORE contracts were signed.

His actions after the fact are purely designed to minimize the political fallout. At this point, he is merely intervening as a bystander and not as a trustee.

In my view, Shumlin should share in the blame for this mess because had the Governor of VT actually opposed this deal during the trustee meeting, it's clear that the outcome would have been different.

“I thought my conversation with the governor was private,” Fogel said. “I’m disappointed he made it public.” - BFP

I call upon Shumlin to give back his salary as Governor, which he, as a millionaire, does not need. I call upon him to renounce his interest in the business he inherited from his parents. I call upon him give back part of the $600,000 or so he earned as a real estate mogul in VT last year. I call upon him to get rid of at least 4 of the six cars it was reported that he owns. I call upon him to reduce his senior staff pay levels to at least that of outgoing Gov. Douglas when Shumlin took over. I call upon him to give back the gas guzzling gubernatorial SUVs that were just purchased for him to replace the sedans that were previously used. I call upon him to attend ALL UVM trustee meetings, in person. I call upon him to honor expectations that private conversations will be kept private. I call upon Gov. Shumlin to stop being a hypocrite.

As a student during Dan Fogel's tenure at UVM -- these actions, frankly, fit his personality perfectly and I'm glad the Governor actually said something and put him in his place.

Yes, Dan Fogel did do a lot for the University but he cut teachers, cut staff and raised salaries for administrators and created a bloated bureaucracy. He makes more the Governor makes and won't even be working while he is getting his package.

Kudos to the Governor for at least saying what we all are thinking. Dan's a snob so Dan, give back a little or I'll start toilet papering your house. Lord knows you can afford the clean up now.

"I'll start toilet papering your house."

Stay classy, Shumlin supporter.

"As a student during Dan Fogel's tenure at UVM -- these actions, frankly, fit his personality perfectly and I'm glad the Governor actually said something and put him in his place."

As a student at UVM, did you take any English composition classes? The above sentence is grammatically rotten. It suggests that "these actions" were "a student."

Part of what is so difficult to accept about Fogel and the Board's position that he merits this exorbitant pay package is that he alone is not solely responsible for his so-called successful term at UVM. He has continually and without shame asked the campus to make sacrifices that he is not himself willing to make and then lashes back with indignation when asked to make even a token contribution that an arguably more ethical and humble man might not even have a second thought about.

Staff, faculty and the infrastructure have been stretched to the breaking point given the increased enrollment levels and continually shrinking resources and staffing. For the past two years, staff have had no merit raises and this year we were summarily told that there would be no cost of living adjustments to meet the rising costs of living. Yet we still get up every morning and commit ourselves to the individual student's success and a positive campus climate because we've been led to understand that we're all engaging in a shared sacrifice for the benefit of something larger than ourselves.

I think President Fogel's actions and comments further prove that there is no such thing as shared commitment and sacrifice and that he views himself as exceptional and apart from all the people on whom his 'successful term' was built. His indignation and self-concern is both demoralizing and frankly disgusting.

Fogel is a flunkin' asshole.

I am mad as hell, as a former trustee and former legislator as to the spending spree for the executive salaries approved by the Board of Trustees since Fogel became Pres. at UVM all the while sticking it to the students. Fogel and the Trustees did not care about these costs being mandated on the students and Gov. Shumlin was not on the board when Fogel was hired and his compensation package was established. All involved in this mess should be relieved of their duties without compensation and a new team brought in at UVM. Trustees don't get free tuition for their children so why should a staff member who had an inappropriate relationship with the President's wife be rewarded with free tuition for his children? UVM needs a fresh start.

Can't UVM find a qualified Alum and/or Vermonter to be president? The Board of Trustees should've known that Fogel was going to be a problem when he refused to live in the UVM president's house. The president's house is good enough for former Governor Salmon but not Fogel!?! I won't be donating anytime soon to UVM.

"Gov. Shumlin was not on the board when Fogel was hired and his compensation package was established."

Gov. Shumlin is on the board now -- the board that approved this severence package for Fogel. Shumlin didn't attend the board meeting at which this severance package was approved. If you don't like this severance package, fire your Governor for not doing his job.

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