Former chancellor John W. Bardo will no longer return to Western Carolina University as a professor. Instead, he accepted the position as the 13th president of Wichita State on Friday, April 27, according to the Kansas Board of Regents.
The announcement came as a shock to the Western Carolina community, who believed that Bardo would teach at the university after a year of research. Bardo, 63, received his usual chancellor’s salary for his year of research under the stipulation that he would return the favor to the university teaching as a professor. Even though he broke the agreement, Bardo said he will keep the $280,000 salary already paid to him, according to The Asheville Citizen-Times.
Joni Worthington, vice president for communications for the UNC president and the UNC Board of Governors, explained why this is allowed to happen.
“Allowing senior university administrators who hold tenure the right to retreat to a faculty position when they retire or otherwise step down from their administrative posts has been an accepted practice throughout American higher education for many decades,” said Worthington.
In 2005, the Board of Governors required a policy concerning “the administrative separation of the president and chancellors,” Worthington continued. This policy allows a sense of competiveness and consistency to that practice of a chancellor or president stepping down and teaching in the UNC system. However after a 2009 survey, the policy was deemed “slightly more generous” in the amount of salary and how long an individual’s leave was allowed compared to other public universities across the nation. In 2010, the policy was modified, but there was still a loophole for Bardo’s actions.
“The revised policy … applies to individuals who were hired into their administrative position on or after January 8, 2010. This policy would therefore be applicable to Chancellor Belcher,” said Worthington. “Chancellors hired before that effective are still covered by the previous policy … Since John Bardo became WCU chancellor in 1995, he is naturally covered by the policy adopted in 2005.”
According to the policy that applies to Bardo, a chancellor who wishes to step down or retire and teach at the university level is allowed to “receive a one-year research leave at the chancellor’s or the president’s most recent administrative salary.” Never does it say in the 2005 policy that a chancellor or president must repay partially or in full the salary he or she received during the year of research.
Should Chancellor Belcher decide to leave after five years, updated guidelines concerning research leave in the 2010 policy would apply to him. His leave of research could only be six months long unless he petitioned for up to six more months. He would be required to submit a “work plan,” which needs to be approved by the Board of Governors. At the conclusion of the research, a report that summarizes the research needs to be submitted. Finally, Belcher, in this hypothetical scenario, would become a faculty member for at least nine months, or he would be forced to pay back the salary he received during the period of leave or research.
Bardo began his career at Wichita State in 1976 as graduate coordinator of the master of urban studies program until 1977. In 1995, he became chancellor of Western Carolina until his retirement in 2011. Bardo will replace current Wichita State president Donald Beggs, who will resign on June 30.