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Wow…Boom Goes The Dynamite In The Chancellor’s Residence

June 8, 2009
Chancellor James Oblinger has resigned in the wake of the Mary Easley fiasco.

NCSU Chancellor James L. Oblinger resigned this morning after days of shifting explanations about a deal he cut for former provost Larry Nielsen when Nielsen stepped down last month.

Both men are at the heart over a controversy about how former state first lady Mary Easley gained a job at the university in 2005, then an 88-percent pay hike last year to a $170,000 salary.

Here’s Oblinger’s official statement released to the media:

I have informed President Bowles that I am resigning as Chancellor of North Carolina State University.

I am doing so because that is what leaders do when the institutions they lead come under distracting and undue public scrutiny. This is particularly true for leaders of public institutions like NC State.

The hiring of Mary Easley and her treatment as a university employee involved no impropriety and no coercion. I am absolutely confident that when this chapter of NC State’s history is written, the only conclusion drawn will be that the University and all of its officials acted both correctly and honorably.

My principal regret is that this chapter of history and that conclusion will not be written until sometime in the future.

The only reason I am announcing my resignation is that I am applying to myself the same standards I have asked Mrs. Easley to apply to herself: I am doing it because it is in the best interests of NC State University.

I understand that the University will be making public today the documents that it is providing to the grand jury in connection with the federal investigation. A handful of those documents – all emails – indicate that I was made aware of Mrs. Easley’s potential availability as a faculty member by McQueen Campbell in April 2005. I did not recall those communications until reviewing the emails last week. The emails themselves indicate that I referred the issue to the appropriate university officials and they indicate no impropriety in the process in which Mrs. Easley was hired to come to NC State from her previous position at North Carolina Central University at an increase in pay of $1,072.10.

I am thankful to our Board of Trustees which has continued to support me throughout my years as Chancellor, up to and including today. In leaving my position as Chancellor, I wish to thank those who have made my term here a time of great progress for the University. Those people include members of past and current boards of trustees, as well as faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of this great University – all of whom have worked with me tirelessly for NC State. Together we have accomplished great things – the completion of the $1 billion Achieve capital campaign, $1 billion in public and privately funded construction and renovation, the expansion of Centennial Campus and Centennial Biomedical Campus. All of these accomplishments – and more – have led to the ever-increasing national and international reputation of N.C. State.

I have devoted 23 years of my life in service to N.C. State, “The People’s University.” I intend to continue to serve the university as I return to the faculty.

I am issuing this as a written statement because of the constraints on my ability to speak publicly because of state employee privacy laws and the confidential nature of the federal grand jury investigation. Suffice it to say that I intend – as I have done all along – to cooperate with that investigation with the full confidence that the ultimate result will exonerate N.C. State and its officials. I will not, however, be issuing or making any further statements until I have fully testified before the grand jury.

Further questions should be addressed to my counsel, Press Millen of the Womble Carlyle law firm.

(Continues)

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