* Updated below with action from the UVM Board of Trustees meeting *
University of Vermont President Dan Fogel made his abrupt resignation official this morning in a campus-wide email that said the decision came after "much soul-searching."
"I am doing so for the good of this wonderful university and for deeply personal reasons," wrote Fogel, who will step down on July 31, a year ahead of schedule. "Suffice it to say that I care greatly about my wife and our marriage, and it has become increasingly clear to me that, in the face of difficult challenges, I cannot serve the university to the best of my ability while obeying the imperative need I feel today to devote significant time and my very best energies to taking care of her and myself and, collaterally, to preparing to resume my work as a teacher and scholar, right here at UVM, in what my father always told me never to forget is the University’s highest rank, the rank of professor. That for me will be a great joy, which I consecrate to his memory."
Read the full emailed letter here.
As noted in this week's "Fair Game," Fogel's decision to step down comes less than two weeks before the scheduled release of an internal investigation related to his wife Rachel-Kahn Fogel, which is expected to be critical of both Fogel and UVM.
Fogel's email goes on: "One can’t do a job like the one I have been in for the last nine years without having some regrets. And yet on balance, looking back over the course of the richly packed and intense years since 2002, there is no question in my mind that the successes we have had as a university — and the satisfaction I take in those successes, not to mention the gratitude I feel for the opportunity I’ve had to serve this distinctive university and the people of Vermont — far outweigh my regrets about things I wish I had done better and passages in the life of the institution I wish had unfolded differently."
In March, Fogel announced he would leave UVM in July 2012. The next month, Seven Days filed a series of public records requests that uncovered a more than six-year amorous connection between Kahn-Fogel, who is a volunteer fundraiser for the university, and a high-ranking colleague in the development office. The Seven Days story prompted UVM trustees to launch an internal investigation into the relationship to determine whether Kahn-Fogel violated UVM workplace policies and whether any UVM funds were misspent, among other issues.
Reflecting on Fogel's departure, said David Shiman, a professor of education and president of UVM Academics, the faculty union, said: "I had a pretty good relationship with him over the years and he's changed the face of this university — with bringing about new academic programs, new buildings, and increased enrollment. He's made a commitment to what he sees as making us a premiere, small research university. I also have some concerns about the threats to academic qualities as a result of the increased size — larger class sizes, changes in faculty-student relationships, and such. Also, I don't feel the faculty recruitment has kept pace with the student increase. That is something that I think needs to be addressed. But, I wish him well and he's had a good long, run here."
Check back later for updates. After a noontime board meeting, UVM Board of Trustees Chairman Rob Cioffi will answer questions and address UVM's next steps in appointing an interim president, finding a new president and wrapping up its internal investigation.
* Update, 4:45 p.m. *
At a midday meeting, UVM's Board of Trustees approved a revised salary and benefits package for UVM President Dan Fogel in the wake of his decision to step down July 31.
Fogel will be granted a paid leave beginning August 1 that will last until December 31, 2012. When Fogel initially announced his resignation in March, he was granted a paid, one-year leave of absence that was to begin in mid-2012 once his successor was hired. That one-year paid leave has been extended by five months so Fogel will now get 17 months of paid leave. Fogel receives a total benefits package valued at more than $400,000 per year.
In January 2013 Fogel will return to UVM as a tenured English professor at a base salary of $195,000, said UVM Board Chairman Rob Cioffi in a late-day interview with Seven Days. His return to teaching was part of Fogel's original contract.
In addition, Fogel will be given a "wellness fund" of up to $20,000 to spend before the end of 2012 for "unreimbursed health care costs and fitness maintenance expenses." He will continue to receive his $1800-a-month housing allowance during his leave of absence.
The board also discussed the appointment of an interim president, Cioffi said. Cioffi hopes an interim president will be appointed by August 1. "I expect that the board will meet again within the next week to make an appointment."
It's unclear whether the board will appoint an interim from within the ranks of existing UVM executives or seek an outsider, Cioffi said.
"I think we're going to look at options out there and available to us and look to someone who can hit the ground running right away," Cioffi told Seven Days. "More importantly, we want to continue to the trajectory we are on and it's important that they know the university."
Cioffi said a key selling point for any interim president is that he or she not be a candidate for the permanent job as president. It's unclear what role Fogel will play during the selection process, or when a new president is hired. "That will be up to the discretion of the new president," said Cioffi. Fogel will be granted an office space on campus, though not in Waterman where current executive offices are located.
Cioffi said UVM has already received interest from several "very interesting" candidates seeking the full-time job. When the search committee meets in September Cioffi said its members will "be able to look at actual resumes and candidates."
Shortly after appointing an interim president, Cioffi expects to be able to release the findings of UVM's internal investigation focusing on the activities of Rachel Kahn-Fogel.
"We'll release the findings at that time, but more importantly we'll release what are going to be the changes that we'll need to implement to ensure that a situation like this doesn't occur again," said Cioffi. "We don't just want to come back with something that says what happened, but what are changes that need to happen."
Cioffi said he doesn't expect that anyone will be disciplined as a result of the report's findings. "Based on what I know today is that no laws have been broken and there were no violations of university policy," said Cioffi.