Emmert wants to leave his UW president job a month early
University of Washington President Mark Emmert is trying to leave a month early to begin his job as president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, but it could cost him up to $51,666.
Seattle Times staff reporter
University of Washington President Mark Emmert was supposed to give his bosses a six-month written notice if he left the university to take a new job. But now that he's been named the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Emmert is trying to leave the university a month early.
Emmert announced his resignation in late April, saying at the time that he would start the new job Nov. 1. But more recently, the president has told a number of people he wants to leave the UW Oct. 1.
According to the terms of his contract, Emmert has to give the UW an amount equal to one month of his base salary — or $51,666 — if he leaves without giving six months' notice. (The president's base salary is $620,000. His total compensation package is $906,500.)
In a special meeting Monday of the university's Board of Regents — Emmert's bosses — the board unanimously agreed to let Chairman Herb Simon negotiate the terms of Emmert's departure.
In other words, the university could change the terms of the contract, possibly even waiving the need for Emmert to pay back a month's worth of his salary.
The unusual meeting was conducted by conference call, with six members of the regents phoning in. One regent, Sally Jewell, called from a boat near Lopez Island; her voice kept cutting in and out.
The discussion over how to handle Emmert's early departure was held during a 35-minute closed-door session because it involves an employment contract. The board then reopened the meeting and unanimously agreed, without discussion, to have Simon negotiate with Emmert.
Earlier in the meeting, the regents voted to hire R. William Funk & Associates, a Dallas-based consulting firm, to advise the presidential search committee that's looking for a replacement for Emmert. Funk's firm will receive $120,000.
Funk "is by far the leading presidential search consultant in the United States for major universities," wrote Kellye Testy, the dean of the UW's School of Law, who is heading the presidential search committee. It was Funk who persuaded Emmert, in 2004, to leave his job as chancellor of Louisiana State University and come to the UW.
In fact, Funk's dominance in the field gave some regents pause, concerned that he would be prohibited from approaching any university president that he himself helped recruit at another university. Regent Orin Smith said Funk couldn't talk to presidents he'd helped recruit within the past two years but could recruit them after that time period had passed. After some discussion, the board unanimously approved the contract.
Jewell said she wasn't very impressed by Funk's written proposal, but when she met him in person, she changed her mind. "He is very, very good in terms of being convincing," she said.
Katherine Long: 206-464-2219 or email@example.com