The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 13, 2013

MSSU Foundation president says board didn’t OK pay for position

MSSU board chairwoman also puzzled; president remains out of office

By Emily Younker

— The president of the Missouri Southern Foundation said Thursday that it was “kind of a shock” to learn that a new administrative position at MSSU would be partly funded by the foundation, which she said the board of directors never authorized.

A three-page job description notes that the “special assistant to the president” position is to be funded in part for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, by the MSSU Foundation. The document was released to the Globe earlier this week in an open-records request that had sought employment documents for Alan Marble, the retiring president of Crowder College who will fill the new position at an annual salary of $125,000.

Rayma Davis, president of the foundation’s 20-member board of directors, said the board had “nothing to do” with Marble’s hiring.

“My concern is that the foundation board has taken absolutely no action on anything having to do with Dr. Marble,” she said. The Globe’s efforts to contact Marble on Thursday were unsuccessful.

Sherry Buchanan, chairwoman of the Board of Governors, said she also didn’t know that the position, as noted in the job description, had been designated to receive foundation funding. She said the university doesn’t have the authority to spend money raised by the foundation without approval from its board of directors.

Buchanan said she didn’t know who wrote the job description or why it included a note about the post being funded by the foundation.

“I will follow through and find out where this description originated and who authorized it to be written that way,” she said.

President Bruce Speck, who has been out of his office for about two weeks, remained unavailable for comment Thursday, according to a university spokeswoman.

“The complication is that the university would not have the authority to write something like that into a university employee contract or job description without the foundation’s involvement, so I’m going to need to follow up on why that is written that way,” Buchanan said by telephone Thursday.

The position, which was announced last month, reports to the president, according to the job description. Duties and responsibilities include serving as a liaison to community colleges, performing fundraising tasks and assisting the president on “important institutional matters,” according to the document.

JoAnn Graffam, the foundation’s executive director and also the university’s vice president of development, was out of the office Thursday and could not be reached for comment by telephone or through email. She said through a university spokeswoman that she was in meetings and was unavailable for interviews.

Graffam’s position is partially funded by the foundation, a move that occurred when the position consolidated dual roles a few years ago for the foundation and the development office, Davis said.

Davis said she doesn’t think the foundation would be able to fund a second position. Any decisions about funding a position at the university would involve a vote or action from the board of directors, she said.

“We can’t really be funding anybody else because that position is already filled” by Graffam, Davis said. “I don’t think we have the money to fund another one (position).”

The foundation, established in 1967, is a 501(c)(3) organization. It is separate from the university and responsible for its funds, Buchanan said.

“The foundation is an independent entity, and they would have the complete say-so about what they were funding,” she said.

Its purpose is to assist in the growth and development of Missouri Southern, Davis said. It takes in and manages donations, endowments and estates, and also coordinates activities such as the annual Phone-A-Thon and other donation drives, she said. Funds support the university in areas such as scholarships, departmental support and building projects, she said.