6.9.12

LIVING LIKE TSARIST PRINCES.

The Chicago Tribune is now following developments in the Northern Illinois University coffee fund investigation.
[The coffee fund story] comes a year after the Tribune revealed that an NIU administrator assigned students to paint her house as one of the projects during NIU Cares Day, a one-day event in which students volunteer at service organizations in the community.

"Our students deserve better. We have had way too many questions of lapses of ethical behavior here by university officials up and down the ladder," said NIU senior Austin Quick, speaker of the Student Association. "It is time for the university to wake up and start looking at their employees, especially ones in senior positions."
The director of student involvement and leadership development called her own number that time.



The current officials enlisted volunteers from among their staff, and offered them modest compensation. This being Illinois, though, one wonders if there wasn't an element of "Nice job you got.  Be a shame if anything happened to it."
One of the two employees who resigned in July was John Gordon, director of the university's 10,000-seat Convocation Center, which hosts about 200 events a year, including concerts, athletic events and meetings. Gordon allegedly had a Convocation Center custodian go at least four times in the past year to his home, where she cleaned the windows and floors, washed dishes and vacuumed, according to an interview and documents obtained by the Tribune.

The employee told the Tribune she was picked up in the morning at the loading dock outside the Convocation Center and driven to Gordon's home about two miles away. She said she was given a "tip" of $20 to $40 for the work.

Gordon, who had been the only director of the entertainment venue since it opened 10 years ago, was facing additional allegations related to using his position for personal gain when he resigned effective July 31, according to documents.

For example, he was accused of having NIU property at his house, including a snowblower and vacuum, according to the documents. NIU officials said the equipment is currently at the university.
The front page of today's Northern Star offers readers a dramatis personae.  A second story suggests that the university is conserving resources by asking the parties under investigation to step out of line and disappear.
Before resigning, Gordon’s annual salary was $132,973. He received about $33,000 and six months of health insurance as part of his resignation agreement. [Former vice president of finance and facilities Robert] Albanese’s salary was $198,553 and he was given a payout of $45,000 as part of his agreement.

Kathryn Buettner, vice president of university relations, said negotiating a payment with the employees as part of the resignation agreement gave a “quicker and likely less costly resolution” than putting them on paid leave pending further investigation and administrative hearings, according to the Tribune
There will be further developments.

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