MARQUETTE - In a 6-2 vote, the Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees approved a three-year contract for NMU Interim President David Haynes Thursday.
The pact will run through June 30, 2015 and will provide Haynes the same salary - $201,995 annually - and benefits former NMU President Les Wong received for the 2011-2012 school year. The contract also grants Haynes tenure in NMU's political science department, where he was a professor prior to his current position.
According to the board's Vice Chairman, Jon LaSalle, of Marquette, the third year of the contract would be considered a sabbatical year for Haynes.
"This whole scenario presumes another president coming into the picture around July 1, 2014," LaSalle said. "The third year would commence July 1, 2014 and would be a sabbatical year for President Haynes. However, he would be available for the first half of that year to the new president, or as needed. The second part of the year would be on full sabbatical, in preparation for his return to the classroom."
Trustee Stephen Adamini, of Marquette, said he would not vote for the three-year contract if the board did not initiate a presidential search immediately, saying the third year of the contract would force the university to pay for two full-time presidents.
Adamini also said he had been given a copy of the contract Thursday and had not had time to review it in detail. Trustee H. Sook Wilkinson, of Bloomfield Hills - who was out of the country and participated in the meeting via conference call - said she had not seen a copy of the contract, nor had she received the summary that had been given to the rest of the board.
LaSalle said it was typical for a presidential contract to not be distributed to board members.
"We have not, in the past, circulated the president's employment agreement during this kind of a proceeding," LaSalle said. "That's the job of the executive committee, to develop and handle the negotiations on this kind of a contract."
Adamini made clear during a lengthy discussion that he was opposed to the contract and that he felt an immediate search would help clear any controversy surrounding Haynes' appointment, which was originally announced before a full-board vote was taken during a public meeting.
"He (Haynes) is, unfortunately, now burdened with the perception by a large number of people in the general public, who are stakeholders in this university, as having been appointed president not because of what he knows but who he knows and that's a burden he shouldn't have to carry," Adamini said. "Now, what I would prefer to say is, 'Fine, you have this contract, we're going to start a search immediately. We certainly hope you put your name in the hat in that selection process' and if he's the greatest thing since sliced bread, as some of us seem to think, then he would do well in that process, but then he would not be burdened by this perception that this was a decision made by us without public discussion behind closed doors, etcetera, and it was based on friendship rather than his qualifications."
Trustee Steve Gulis Jr., of Rockford, refuted claims that Haynes was burdened in any way, adding that it would be unwise not to approve the contract.
"I'm very concerned that if we don't get a contract, which I'm assuming this is acceptable to Dr. Haynes, that without that, we're going to have a big burden on the university's shoulders, because we're not going to have anyone running the institution on a day-to-day basis," Gulis said. "So, I think we should continue with our process and do as we said we should do."
The motion to approve Haynes' contract was made by LaSalle and seconded by Trustee L. Garnet Lewis, of Freeland.
Trustees Gil Ziegler, of Charlevoix, and Adamini cast the two dissenting votes.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.