Cunningham to Net $388,000 in LCC Severance Agreement

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

Former Lansing Community College President Paula Cunningham will receive nearly $400,000 as part of a severance agreement approved by the Board of Trustees and obtained by the Lansing State Journal.

In exchange, Cunningham has agreed not to sue the college over how the board handled her dismissal.

The severance payments were an invevitable result of months of tension -- according to the chair of LCC's board of trustees.

"A serious breakdown in trust between the president and the board," Board Chair Chris Laverty said.

The agreement obtained by News 10's news partner, the Lansing State Journal, shows Cunningham will be getting a full year's salary of $170,639 -- plus money she'll receive down the line in the form of annuities ($26,431 and $28,431 respectively) and deferred compensation ($32,802). That's in addition to two $65,000 lump sum payments.

The total? More than $388,000.

Laverty says all the payments are worth it for the future of the college.

"It was much less than full pay for her three-year-plus rolling agreement ... But we couldn't go on like this," Laverty said.

Board member Mark Canady opposed the payments. He says it's evidence that the former president was forced out.

"The parties that wanted to get rid of Paula Cunningham were so desperate they were willing to do anything," Canady said.

But Laverty says he didn't start the process of Cunningham's depature.

"The president first approached us in October ... talking about an exit strategy," Laverty said.

Part of the exit strategy is paid for by Michigan income taxpayers -- and by the local property taxes in Ingham, Clinton and Eaton counties that fund the college.

Laverty says the payout is a lot of money, but he hopes the college is moving toward ending one of its more vitrolic chapters.

There's not much evidence of that. Canady says he would call for Laverty's resignation -- if he could get the votes.

"I have no confidence in the leadership," Canady said.

The board's next major challenge is to install a new permanent president of Lansing Community College. It's clear that process could be contentious.

Our call seeking comment from Cunningham through her attorney was not returned.

-- in Lansing, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.


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