The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

June 19, 2013

MSSU board approves settlement agreement with fired president

JOPLIN, Mo. — Bruce Speck, whose contract as president of Missouri Southern State University was terminated last week, will receive the equivalent of a year’s salary as well as housing and health insurance benefits through the end of the year.

Those terms were approved Wednesday by the Board of Governors.

According to the agreement, which also carried Speck’s signature, the university will pay Speck:

• All contract benefits through the end of this month.

• Twelve monthly installments, beginning in July, totaling $185,400, which is the amount of his annual salary.

• His health coverage through December. The agreement also requires the university to make available to Speck’s wife the same health coverage, at her expense, through December.

• A monthly housing allowance of $3,333.33 through December.

• $14,261.53, which represents 160 hours of accrued vacation pay.

The agreement requires Speck to return to the university its leased vehicle as well as other university property such as keys, computers, telephones or credit cards. It also includes a clause that stipulates that Speck may not sue the university.

The board voted unanimously last week to terminate Speck’s contract, which was effective through June 30, 2015. Sherry Buchanan, chairwoman of the board, disclosed the vote earlier this week and said in a statement that the termination was “by mutual agreement” of the board and Speck.

Ron Mitchell, a Joplin attorney representing the board, said he thinks the agreement is “amicable” to both parties.

“It was very important that we be fair, that we move forward in a positive fashion, that we not get bogged down with this to the detriment of the future,” Mitchell said after the board’s meeting at his office.

Mitchell said many of the terms of the agreement — the paying of accrued vacation time and health insurance, for example — are standard university policy regarding the departure of an employee. The payment of one year’s salary isn’t standard procedure for employees, he said.

“Given the fact that he had two years left on the contract, I think everybody thought that was fair,” he said.

Joy Dworkin, president of the faculty senate, said when contacted by the Globe on Wednesday night that she thinks the settlement is “going beyond” what is listed in Speck’s contract.

According to his contract, the president would be paid his base salary and health coverage for six additional months in a situation wherein his contract was terminated “by mutual consent” and initiated by the board. He would not be paid salary or benefits beyond his date of termination in the same situation if he initiated the termination, under the contract.

“I would say that I’m not shocked, but that does seem generous,” Dworkin said of the terms of the settlement. “I suppose I could say I’m somewhat disappointed that this is an expensive settlement for Missouri Southern, but I feel quite confident that the faculty nevertheless is eager for us to move on to new leadership.”

Speck has been out of his office and unavailable for comment for about three weeks now.

Buchanan has repeatedly declined to comment on his absence. She also has declined to comment on why Speck’s contract was terminated, saying only that it is a personnel matter.

Mitchell said Speck’s last official day as president was Friday, the same day that the board voted to terminate his contract. He said he didn’t know when Speck’s last day on campus was, or why he had been gone.

In Speck’s absence, Mitchell said, the day-to-day operation of the university has fallen to the president’s council, which consists of the university’s four vice presidents and the director of athletics, as well as the leader of the Board of Governors.

What’s next?

AN INTERIM PRESIDENT has not yet been named by the board. The board is to meet at 4 p.m. today in Billingsly Student Center for its regular monthly meeting.

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

  • Kansas Regents stick with social media policy

    After directing a committee to study a controversial social media policy and make recommended changes, the Kansas Board of Regents appears to not be changing the policy at all. It’s left some in academia baffled by why it appointed the work group in the first place.

    April 18, 2014

  • Britain Easter Pilgri_Cast.jpg SLIDESHOW: Good Friday observances around the world Around the world, Christians are coming together in observance of Good Friday, which they believe was the day Jesus was crucified. Here are some photos from Good Friday commemorations around the world.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missouri House votes to expand sales tax exemptions

    Pizza parlors, doughnut shops and even convenience stores all could be in line for a tax break on the food that they make and sell as a result of a measure moving through the Missouri Legislature.

    April 18, 2014

  • 041714 School safe rooms4_72.jpg Joplin school district readies community safe rooms for storm season

    Thousands of Joplin residents will soon be able to stay safe during storms in some of the region’s newest shelters. Community safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools, which double as gymnasiums, and Junge Field, which will double as a field house, are expected to be open within the next few weeks, according to Mike Johnson, the school district’s director of construction.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 041714 Treble Makers.jpg Carl Junction ‘Treble Makers’ to sing at Springfield Cardinals’ stadium

    Next month, 75 Carl Junction sixth-grade students will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Hammons Field before a Springfield Cardinals game. And with more than 600 parents, family members and other residents planning to attend, the May 3 event has been dubbed “Carl Junction Day.”

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Public hearing set on posed TIF district

    Financial details of a proposed new tax increment financing district for the Silver Creek Galleria area will be discussed in detail at an April 28 public hearing, members of the city’s TIF Commission were told Thursday. Chris Williams, a TIF attorney representing the city of Joplin, told the panel the Thursday meeting was intended to walk commissioners through the public hearing steps.

    April 17, 2014

  • Volunteer projects spark two bills in Jefferson City

    Bills moving through the Missouri House and Senate were inspired by a volunteer project in Carl Junction last year that stalled over a question of whether those volunteers had to be paid prevailing wage under Missouri law. “This bill is very simple. All it says is if someone is a volunteer, they won’t be forced to be paid prevailing wage,” state Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, told lawmakers during a hearing on his bill last week.

    April 17, 2014