IU will pay McRobbie an additional $582,000 for consulting services

Indiana University has agreed to pay former university president Michael McRobbie an additional $582,000 for essentially clearing his schedule for six months after his June 30 retirement so he could be available at the school if necessary, a university spokesperson confirmed Thursday.

The extra pay — which administrators called in a compensation letter for “advisory services” — became public this week in online posts from IU Maurer Law School professor Steve Sanders. One of those posts included links to documents — which Sanders obtained from IU through a public records request — that outline the circumstances leading up to the payment.

Sanders said in an online post on medium.com on Wednesday that he was seeking the documents to provide more transparency about the selection process for IU’s new president, Pamela Whitten.

Former IU President Michael McRobbie and current President Pamela Whitten

IU spokesperson Chuck Carney confirmed the additional payments to McRobbie Thursday afternoon after initially refusing to address the issue on Tuesday, saying in an email that the university could not comment on “issues related to personnel”.

In Thursday’s email, after additional questions from IBJ and the Indiana attorney, Carney said the administrators had agreed to pay McRobbie $582,722 over six months, an amount that includes the salary and deferred compensation.

Documents shared by Sanders show that directors have asked McRobbie to stay on for six months beyond his June 30 retirement in case they cannot find a replacement by then.

A document initially offered McRobbie extra pay to extend his contract for six months. That deal was signed on March 19 by McRobbie and then-board chairman Michael J. Mirro, according to documents obtained by Sanders.

But that deal was apparently never executed, because on May 6, Jim Morris, chairman of the compensation committee, write a note to all directors asking them to go ahead and honor the offer even though Whitten was named McRobbie’s successor on April 16, well before McRobbie’s retirement date.

The memo notes that McRobbie had delayed sabbatical opportunities at two universities by a semester to continue making himself available for IU through Dec. 31. The directors authorized the additional six months’ compensation “in light of other opportunities”. [McRobbie] waived,” Carney said in an email.

On May 13, Mirro and Vice Chairman Patrick Shoulders signed a letter to McRobbie, agreeing to pay him the same amount to provide consulting services to Whitten until the end of the year, according to the documents.

Sanders argues that under Indiana’s Open Door Act, the consulting agreement with McRobbie should have been publicly reviewed and implemented at the June directors’ meeting, as it was to take effect on July, 1st.

Carney said in an email that the IU board approved the additional salary at its August meeting. He said the action is reflected in the board minutes of that meeting, but he said those minutes won’t become official until today’s board meeting in Indianapolis and that it cannot therefore be consulted.

McRobbie’s additional salary is not listed as a talking point on the August 13 board meeting agenda, but Carney said it was standard practice for ‘administrative actions’ discussed in session. executive.

“As is standard procedure, staff decisions involving contracts are discussed in executive session, if discussed at all, and … voted on in the administrative action section of the [public] meeting,” Carney wrote in an email.

IBJ’s review of a video recording of the Aug. 13 board meeting found that directors voted all at once for a list of “action points,” but those points weren’t were not discussed or detailed vocally.

Carney said in an email that information about the item dealing with McRobbie’s extra salary was in a package of documents provided to the board ahead of the meeting, but he did not have immediate access to the material. .

Steve Sander

Sanders worked for months to obtain documents related to IU’s presidential search. His public records requests were filed in May, but he said he didn’t get all the documents he was looking for until August, including the document relating to McRobbie’s contract extension.

On Tuesday, Indiana Public Access Advisor Luke Britt released a advisory opinion on Sanders’ requests for public records, agreeing with the professor that the university “failed to provide the records in a timely manner as required by the Access to Public Records Act.”

Sanders used the documents and interviews with eight unnamed people involved in the presidential research as the basis for an online article criticizing the way the research was conducted. In the message, he said Whitten did not appear as a candidate until the 11thand time.

Non-disclosure agreements signed by the research committee make it difficult to immediately verify these characterizations. (IBJ Media CEO Nate Feltman, publisher of the Indianapolis Business Journal and Indiana Lawyer, was among the 23-member presidential search advisory board, which did not interview or recommend candidates.)

In April, Sanders immediately criticized the selection of Whitten, who had served as president of Kennesaw State University in Georgia and had previously held senior positions at the University of Georgia and the University of Kansas Medical Center.

“There is a time to get out of college for the president and a time to stay in, and I thought this time was a mistake for Indiana University to get out,” Sanders told the time. He added: “In my mind, now would have been a good time to be true to the direction Chairman McRobbie has set and stay the course.”

Sanders is also a friend of Lauren Robel, who recently left her position as provost of IU Bloomington and returned to the Maurer School of Law, where she previously served as dean. Sanders said Robel appeared to be the leading internal candidate for the presidential post.

In a Tuesday phone interview with the Indiana attorney, Sanders said his friendship and work with Robel for more than 20 years was not a factor in his decision to write his presidential research paper.

About 48 hours before posting this message, Sanders wrote another message stating that he thought IU might try to “bully him into keeping quiet about things the university knows are controversial.”

Sanders wrote that a public records request from the Indianapolis law firm Hoover Hull Turner LLP has been filed seeking emails associated with his IU address, “specifically any emails regarding research that I may have sent or received with members of the IU Board of Directors, or the 17 members of the Presidential Search Committee.

Although Sanders said he doesn’t know who was behind the request, he suspects it could be IU, as the school has been represented by the company in the past, including in a current Title IX pursuit against the IU School of Medicine.

Hoover Hull Turner did not return phone calls seeking comment. IU did not respond to a question about whether she asked the company to search for Sanders’ emails.