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Former administrator rejects offer to return to Edison State College

Apr. 22, 2011


A former administrator at Edison State College is rejecting an offer to return as a consultant.

Steve Atkins, who resigned as vice president for academic affairs on March 14, was willing to return if given a two-year contract and the ability to report to someone other than senior vice president James Browder, according to Atkins’ attorney, Pat Geraghty.

District President Kenneth Walker rejected that offer, though, and instead proposed bringing Atkins back as a consultant at his former hourly rate rather than as a full-time employee.

With no guarantee of working hours and a stipulation not to sue, Geraghty said Friday he’s rejecting the counteroffer.

“It leaves him defenseless,” said Justin Stockman, an attorney with Geraghty’s firm.
Walker agreed to approach Atkins about a possible return as part of four concessions to quell faculty’s concerns. Atkins was well-respected by professors and was heading Edison’s reaccreditation efforts.

The counteroffer, issued Thursday, specifies:

• Duties — Atkins would have three functions: (1) serve as an outside reviewer for accreditation, (2) assist with Edison’s quality enhancement plan development, and (3) help develop a comprehensive institutional assessment rubric.

• Payment — Atkins would be paid on an hourly basis, using his previous salary of $141,100 as a guideline. He also would earn $10,000 after a consultant’s contract is executed.

• Work location — Atkins could complete a majority of work from home, but be permitted to work on campus as needed.

• Legal action — Atkins would agree to sign a general release of all claims.

The final item was the kicker. Geraghty plans to file a complaint Monday with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, claiming Atkins, who is white, was retaliated against after expressing concerns about discriminatory hiring practices at Edison. On Feb. 21, Atkins approached human resources with three instances of possible violations, and subsequently was subject to a hostile workplace, Geraghty said.

Vivian Lilly, a one-time candidate for nursing dean, also will file a complaint next week, Geraghty said. A selection committee ranked Lilly, who is black, as the top choice, but she was not offered the job until after Geraghty contacted the college about discrimination, he said.

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