Published Sat, Dec 01, 2012 12:12 PM
The Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. — Former First Lady Mary Easley’s state pension will more than double following an out-of-court settlement with North Carolina State University over her firing three years ago.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Saturday (http://bit.ly/U7qBEy) that the settlement effectively treats Easley as if she had been working at a salary of $170,000 since her 2009 dismissal.
Easley was hired in 2005 to run a university speaker’s series, but her job was soon expanded with a controversial 88-percent pay increase that ultimately led to her dismissal.
Easley began receiving an annual state pension of $37,171 with credit for more than two decades of state service. The new settlement, signed in late August but not previously disclosed, gives Easley a pension benefit of $80,597 per year.
If the 62-year-old former first lady lives another 23 years, her current life expectancy, the change would earn an additional $1 million in pension pay.
NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson approved the deal, records show. He said the agreement had the full support of university trustees and the UNC system Board of Governors, though the authority to settle was his. The cost to N.C. State: about $90,000, paid from a fund of private donations.
Woodson said Easley’s possible legal case against the university focused on “breach of contract” because the university terminated its written contract with her one year into a five-year term.
Before she was hired at N.C. State in 2005, Easley taught law at N.C. Central in Durham and before that she was a prosecutor in southeastern North Carolina.
After her duties were expanded in 2008, Easley’s new contract would have paid her $170,000 a year as an “executive in residence.” Her duties were to create and direct a public safety center; continue running the speakers series; coordinate law-related academic programming; and teach half a class each semester.
A series of disclosures in 2009 about how she was first hired with the direct help of former Gov. Mike Easley, along with budget cutting in state government that took away many of her duties, led to prominent calls for her resignation, which she refused. Mike Easley was governor from 2001 to 2009.
The episode led to the forced resignation of Chancellor James Oblinger on the same day that university trustees terminated Easley’s contract