Privacy cited for silence on Ball State chief’s resignation

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The resignation without explanation of Ball State University's president after less than 18 months on the job was voluntary and not prompted by any disgrace, the board of trustees' chairman said, citing personnel reasons for protecting Paul Ferguson's privacy.

The university announced Ferguson's resignation on Monday. The severance deal gives him a paid, two-month sabbatical leave followed by a year of pay at his base salary of $450,000. That's what the five-year contract he signed in 2014 called for him to receive if he were fired without cause.

"I want to assure you first of all there is no scandal, no other shoe that's going to drop, there's no financial crisis, there's not an emergency that's going to be revealed next week," chairman Rick Hall said before a trustees' board meeting Friday. "This is a personnel decision and like all personnel decisions on campus there is a desire to protect the privacy of all individuals involved."

That contract also said the university would be under no obligation to compensate him if he resigned before 2019 and that he could even have to pay damages to Ball State if he resigned with less than 180 days' notice.

Hall told The Star Press of Muncie that terms of the severance package were reached by mutual agreement between the board and Ferguson.

"We all felt these were the terms under which it was best to move forward," Hall said. "It's just part of the terms of his separation that both he and the board feel are appropriate under the circumstances."

Associate professor Amy Harden, who chairs the University Senate, told Hall during a committee meeting earlier Friday there was "unease" among faculty because Ferguson's resignation was shrouded in secrecy.

Carli Hendershot, a political science major at Ball State, on Friday led a contingent of students who attended the board meeting to state that the trustees' "lack of transparency calls into question their legitimacy."

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