Former community college head paid four months salary to leave early

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 5:05 PM EDT
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(WITN) - Former North Carolina Community College System President Thomas Stith will get four months’ salary as part of a severance deal he signed with the system last month when he resigned under pressure.

WRAL reports that the system released that deal Friday after a week-and-a-half of requests from WRAL News.

The agreement will pay Stith roughly $97,000. That’s four months of his base salary, which was about $292,000 a year, according to the system office. The agreement also includes health insurance through November, and there is a non-disparagement clause forbidding either side from criticizing the other.

Stith resigned July 19, a few days after a lengthy closed session of the system board that the meeting agenda described as a review of “presidential goals.” Sources said at the time that the change was months in the making, prompted in part by concerns with Stith’s hiring decisions.

The severance agreement is dated July 20 and says Stith’s job ended effective July 22. He waived any right to legal action and agreed in the document to keep the terms secret, but the system was bound by the state open records act to release details.

System leaders agreed in the document not to make “any public statement regarding [Stith’s] separation except: ‘The Board thanks Mr. Stith for his Service to NCCCS and wishes him well,’ or words to that effect.”

An attempt to reach Stith, who was Gov. Pat McCrory’s chief of staff from 2013 to 2017, for comment Friday was not successful.

Bill Carver, a former Nash Community College president, was named interim system president. This is his second go at the job, because he also replaced Peter Hans when Hans left the system to become president of the University of North Carolina System.

The state’s community college system consists of 58 campuses and the central office, and it has seen significant turnover in recent years, losing nearly all its top-level leadership. Nearly half of the system’s 58 schools have also changed leadership.

Counting both of Carver’s terms as interim president, the system has had seven presidents or interim presidents in seven years.

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