Attorney: Jensen’s severance package was more than contract called for |

Attorney: Jensen’s severance package was more than contract called for

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – An attorney dealing with Stan Jensen’s recent resignation as president of Colorado Mountain College (CMC) acknowledged on Wednesday that college officials paid Jensen more in severance than he would have received under his original employment contract with the institution.

Jensen, who has been president of the college for four years, resigned from his $198,854-per-year job during a meeting of the college board of trustees via telephone conference call on Dec. 27.

Along with accepting his resignation, the trustees agreed to award Jensen $500,000 in severance pay. Trustees gave no explanation for the severance agreement under a confidentiality provision governing the deal.

“The dollar amount that [the college trustees] adopted was greater than the number the board would have had to pay him,” under the terms of his employment contract, said attorney Tim Whitsitt on Wednesday.

Whitsitt, of the Carbondale law firm Whitsitt and Gross, was hired Dec. 7 by the trustees as special counsel for personnel matters.

Whitsitt said he was uncertain of the exact amount contained in Jensen’s employment contract. The contract was not available for public review on Wednesday due to college employee absences over the holidays.

Banker Glenn Davis of Avon, president of the college board of trustees, said he was aware that taxpayers could be worried about the effect of the severance payment on the overall budget for the college district.

“I don’t believe it will have any effect on the operating budget,” Davis said. CMC’s budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year is approximately $63 million.

The severance payment comes from the college’s reserves, and is not part of the operating budget, said CMC public information officer Debra Crawford.

During the Dec. 27 phone conference, CMC Trustee Kathy Goudy noted that the severance pay deal was in return for the resignation, “which we may not have gotten otherwise.”

Due to the rules governing the teleconference meeting, reporters were not able to ask follow-up questions of the trustees.

Whitsitt said he recalled Goudy’s remarks and explained that Jensen was an “at-will employee” who could have been fired at any time “without notice and without cause.”

The trustees agreed, however, to accept Jensen’s resignation under terms that included the severance payment, Whitsitt said, “and her reference was to that fact.”

Whitsitt, Davis and Goudy all declined to go into greater detail concerning negotiations over Jensen’s resignation, citing the confidentiality agreement.

Dr. Jill Boyle, who was hired in late 2010 as senior vice president of the college, will have “operational authority” over CMC until the trustees determine how to proceed with replacing Jensen.

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