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Today’s number: $480,000

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* Ben Yount

The now former president of Illinois State University is getting almost a half million dollars to walk away from a job he may have been close to losing.

Tim Flanagan abruptly resigned Saturday, pocketing a $480,000 payout and three months of rent-free living at ISU’s presidential mansion.

“You don’t want to get into an argument about the terms of resignation,” ISU trustee Michael McCuskey said.

McCusky wouldn’t say how close the university was to firing Flanagan for his role in an alleged assault on a university groundskeeper. […]

ISU trustees were to meet Saturday to discuss “personnel matters,” but Flanagan resigned before any action was taken.

* Background

R. Patrick Murphy, a superintendent of grounds, has said his crew was aerating the lawn outside Flanagan’s home when the president rushed outside to confront him. Flanagan’s spit flew in Murphy’s face and clothes during the dustup, Murphy told police.

“He cuts loose on me. I’ve never seen such a thing happen. I was shocked,” Murphy told The Pantagraph newspaper in Bloomington.

Murphy was fired five days after the incident and is seeking his job back, The Pantagraph reported.

University police have forwarded their case to McLean County prosecutors, who intend to ask a special prosecutor to investigation to avoid a potential conflict because a member of the state’s attorney’s family works at the school in Downstate Normal, according to The Pantagraph. […]

Flanagan was appointed in May to replace Al Bowman, president of the university for a decade. Flanagan received an annual salary of $350,000 plus benefits under his three-year contract. He previously was the president of Framingham State University in Massachusetts.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Nonplussed - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:43 am:

    I need to find someone to spit on.

  2. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    What a classy guy. Major kudos to the selection committee who lassoed this piece of…

  3. - ISUAlumn - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:46 am:

    Between this and paying upwards of $50,000 a game to play in a joke tournament is really questioning me the choices my alma mater are making. I miss Bowman.

  4. - Dirty Red - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    I imagine the university will come out of this in better shape than they would have otherwise.

    Succeeding Al Bowman was not going to be easy. Darn near impossible, if you ask me. He was their guy. Flanagan being that immediate successor and a total doofus certainly makes the post-Bowman ISU easier for the new president to weather. All Dietz has to do is show the Board and faculty he’s not Flanagan, which should not be difficult for him by any means, and that he is as approachable as Bowman.

  5. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    “You don’t want to get into an argument about the terms of resignation,” ISU trustee Michael McCuskey said.

    Yes you do. This man deserves to have his temper tantrum publically aired. He set himself up to be lauded over by everyone at the university, but we now know he treats everyone around him with disrespect. He got paid to be university royalty, and all we seemed to have gotten is a royal infant.

    What are trustees for in cases like this? Are you guys going to do your job and save US the costs for diapering this baby quietly?

    Go after him!

  6. - Rufus - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:51 am:

    Some people just can’t handle their power. What a jerk.

  7. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    Better give that sup his job back with back pay and an apology or here comes the wrongful termination lawsuit.

    Geez, who vetted this hothead prez? He freaks out about his LAWN at his free house in December?

    Can we reconstitute that ISU search committee before they hit the million mark in bonehead hires?

  8. - fed up - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    Hmm wonder how much they will have to pay the groundskeeper who appears to have been wrongly terminated. wonder if the board will come up with a few hundred K for him

  9. - shore - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    She never earned it because she worked part time according to factcheck but Michelle Obama’s salary rate at U of C was 315k a year. Which puts this in context. All university bureaucrat spending is out of control-but like the hit on state government for spending money on pencils-how else are they supposed to write now that ink and quills are out? this isn’t what it seems.

  10. - Hans Sanity - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:01 am:

    Maybe the ISU Prez got spittin’ mad when the grounds superintendent told him he didn’t need university presidents to sign off on lawn aerations.

  11. - Norseman - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    This may hurt ISU’s chances of becoming the standard bearer for State Sens. Murphy and Connelly’s efforts to get another Big Ten university in Illinois.

  12. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    –This may hurt ISU’s chances of becoming the standard bearer for State Sens. Murphy and Connelly’s efforts to get another Big Ten university in Illinois.–

    I’ll have what those dudes are having.

    The Big Ten added Rutgers for the NY/NJ TV market, and Maryland for the DC/VA/MD TV market, for the cash-cow Big Ten Network.

    I don’t think Jim Delaney is lusting after the Bloomington or Carbondale TV markets

  13. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    ===I don’t think Jim Delaney is lusting after the Bloomington or Carbondale TV markets===

    No, but maybe St. Louis?

  14. - yinn - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    This story reminded me that SIU included a refund in the agreement with its new president if he continues his job-hopping habit. Maybe more contracts should include probationary clawbacks.

  15. - Downstater - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:12 am:

    Good work, if you can get it. No wonder tuition continues to escalate at rates higher than inflation, with bonehead moves like this.

  16. - olok1973 - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    Pretty embarrasing for an ISU alum like myself. I’m glad they dumped this “gentleman” so quickly but I’d definatly ask for my search firm fee back. Pretty lousy job of background checking.

  17. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    I have temper tantrums all the time. Why doesn’t anybody ever pay me $450,000 to go away?

  18. - Anon. - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:18 am:

    ==No, but maybe St. Louis?==

    How about Munich?

  19. - Endangered Moderate Species - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:18 am:

    ===No, but maybe St. Louis?===

    Delaney passed on Mizzou when they wanted in. The St. Louis market was not as promising as the east coast markets.

  20. - Greatplainser - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:18 am:

    As a recent grad who was involved to an extent University governance I can say that Bowman set up whomever succeeded him to fail. This guy Flanagan was never a good fit to replace the Bowman legacy. Dietz is a capable man and will do a good job. Particularly because he gets to pick his own Provost, VP of Finance, and VP of Student Affairs (all are vacant now). The culture at ISU will change from the days of Bowman but some people think that a good thing.

  21. - Dean Keaton - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:18 am:

    ===No, but maybe St. Louis?===

    Then they wouldv’e taken Mizzou a few years ago when they begged to join. Or Kansas, which wouldv’e had a better chance of bringing the St. Louis and KC market than either of the remaining Illinois schools without a D1 football team.

  22. - Makandadawg - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:21 am:

    Lawsuits are best avoided in these cases because their outcomes and eventual total costs are unpredictable. I know some of these contracts end in binding arbitration and not a lawsuit. I sure would like to see his contract and the new one

  23. - CollegeStudent - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    ======I don’t think Jim Delaney is lusting after the Bloomington or Carbondale TV markets===

    No, but maybe St. Louis? ===

    Missouri was theirs for the taking a few years back. They aren’t that interested.

  24. - Norseman - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    Word, Rich is on to something. Maybe the St. Louis market is what the Senators had in mind when they talked about SIU-E being a possibility. All it will take is for that school to get a football team and a new stadium or upgrade the soccer stadium.

  25. - Nearly Normal - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    There was a follow-up article in the Pantagraph that stated Fitzgerald was given an ultimatum to resign or be fired due to action taken in closed session at the February board meeting. He had 30 days to decide which way he wanted to go.

    Apparently, he negotiated a deal that would allow him to resign and get the severance package. The man was not worth it in my opinion. The board selected him because of the finalists he was the only one with presidential experience. I have a feeling that due diligence was not done to find out more about the situation in Massachusetts that led him to want to come to ISU.

  26. - DuPage - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:37 am:

    It’s a little unclear did he spit on the guy intentionally? A lot of times some people accidentally have bits of food, drink, saliva fly out. Usually the person is told “SAY it, don’t SPRAY it”.
    If he spit on the guy deliberately he should not get all that extra money. It should have been put in escrow with the understanding if he is found totally innocent he would get the money. If he is found guilty, no money for future years not worked.

  27. - Old and in the Way - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:48 am:

    SIU-E to the big Ten? ISU to the Big Ten? Maybe SIU to the Big Ten? This would be laughable were it not so tragic. We can’t even pay the universities what the state appropriates now on a timely basis! What we have are two legislators living in fantasy land!

  28. - Norseman - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    I was annoyed at the following quote in the Sun Times: “Meanwhile, Connelly said he could see SIU or ISU becoming the next Big Ten school, once their academics and athletics advance a bit with the help of the state.”

    I felt he neglected to mention the best football school in the state, NIU. However, it dawned on me that we don’t need to belong to the Big 10 to defeat their teams.

  29. - Norseman - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    Old, I think the problem is that to be a Republican Senator is a frustrating and boring time. The Dems don’t let them do anything serious so they have to get some entertainment with goofy bills.

  30. - Skeptic - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    The quote that annoyed Norseman annoyed me too but for a different reason…Shouldn’t we be advancing the academics to, oh, I don’t know, advance the academics? Makes it sound like the tail wagging the dog otherwise.

    To the post…I’ve never quite understood the idea of “Quit (with this big cushy deal)” or be fired. If you want the guy out, show him the door and ask him if he’s going to walk or be pushed. That’s how it works for the other 99%.

  31. - Nearly Normal - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    One of the election judges I worked with on March 18’s primary works at ISU. He told me there was more to the story about the ISU prez than the incident with Murphy. Some faculty wanted their senate to conduct a vote of no support for Flanagan due to other run-ins with the prez. The situation with Murphy and the resignations of key people to take positions at other universities compelled the board to take action to stop the loss of more key people.

  32. - Prisoner of cook - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 12:09 pm:

    This isn’t about athletics; the idea is Illinois needs a second “prestige” state university because many quality Illinois students look out of state as admission to U of I (Urbana)is so limited.

  33. - Prisoner of cook - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 12:11 pm:

    Also, Fitzgerald what a jerk!

  34. - Jim'e' - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 12:15 pm:

    Hey Sen Murphy, if want to set your sights on upgrading a state school, rather than the Big Ten, why not set your goal to have them join the Univiersity Athletic Association of which the Univeristy of Chicago is a member. Think about having SIU or ISU compete when those schools on an acedemic level (Carnegie Mellon, Emory, Case Western, to name a few)

  35. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    Another fine example of Quinn University Boards hiring a tool and sending taxpayers and students the tab.

    This Board will not get “reconstituted,” at least not before the election. Go check them out.

  36. - Century Club - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    A $480,000 payout after complaining about the cost of paying student workers $10/hour if the minimum wage goes up.

    Glad they have their priorities straight.

  37. - Chris - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    “SIU-E to the big Ten? ISU to the Big Ten? Maybe SIU to the Big Ten? This would be laughable were it not so tragic.”

    It’s a tragic joke. 13 of the 14 Big Ten schools are members of the AAU (Nebraska is the exception)–see . Mizzou and KU are the *also* AAU members, but not up to snuff. There is less than ZERO chance that the Big Ten would accept an IL school that is not a AAU member into the conference–in other words, there is much more chance that U-Chicago or Wash-U decides to get into big time sports and get a Big Ten invite than there is any chance of ISU (the IL one–Iowa State has a non-zero chance), SIU, NIU or any of the others getting the same invite.

    May as well propose a bill to bring an NFL team to Springfield.

  38. - Norseman - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    === This isn’t about athletics; the idea is Illinois needs a second “prestige” state university because many quality Illinois students look out of state as admission to U of I (Urbana)is so limited. ===

    You don’t become a prestige university by joining an athletic conference. You need to invest in the schools to bring in the programs and educational talent to accomplish that task. Neither of these Solons will want to support the funding necessary to do this. In fact, they did more harm to maintaining educational talent at universities with SB 1 than they could repair with a good football team.

  39. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    Let’s get back to the topic please. Big 10 discussion should move here:

  40. - Big Muddy - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    To my previous post: I was talking about academics NOT athletics. There are many ways to improve the education levels of state schools. Joining the Big 10 isn’t one of them. If it’s costs these fine Senators are trying to work on, well, they are dopes for suggesting that joining the Big 10 will solve that riddle. Is this what the super-minority does to kill time while Madigan and crew scheme to raise taxes? Oy.

  41. - Nearly Normal - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    Just announced via

    BLOOMINGTON - The McLean County State’s Attorney Office has filed charges against Ex-Illinois State University President Timothy Flanagan.

    State’s Attorney Jason Chambers said Flanagan is being charged with one count of disorderly conduct relating to an incident between Flanagan and a former university employee.

    Chambers said Flanagan’s first court appearance will be April 23 at 9 a.m.

  42. - Big Muddy - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    Sorry boss. I’ll move along…

  43. - Redbird McLean - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 1:27 pm:

    I’m thinking that the situation with the grounds crew was the straw that broke the camel’s back. From my understanding Pres. Flanagan was not a pleasant person, and his wife was even more unpleasant.

    This did not help Flanagan, because Larry Dietz was the faculty’s choice from the very beginning.

    I do not think a President from a Liberal Northeast state meshed well with the midwestern board at ISU.

    Also, the legacy of Al Bowman is there, and Al Bowman is loved in that community. I bet he’d give Dan Brady a run for his money in his old 88th state rep district.

    Flanagan did himself no favors, made himself more unlikable, and Dietz was able to sneak in as president just how Rep. Underwood did.

  44. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 1:49 pm:

    Nearly, thanks for the updates and the local perspective. Helps greatly for those of us who are watching from a distance.

  45. - A guy... - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 2:05 pm:

    Who knew a guy could go off this far over a few dandelions?

  46. - A guy... - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    To add to what Redbird McLean said: I attended a commencement at ISU where Al Bowman gave the address. He was outstanding. Another parent nearby advised me that he speaks at as many of the commencements for the various schools within ISU as possible. I thought I just got lucky. Turns out just about everyone who attended any of the several commencements on the campus were just as lucky. I could easily see how this guy was loved.

  47. - Capitol View - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 3:39 pm:

    Less than six months on the job? Sounds like still on probation for his state job — dismiss him and forget any major separation compensation!

  48. - Polaris - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 4:19 pm:

    The path to release Flanagan from his contract would have happened regardless of the incident with the grounds keeper. That incident did not directly lead to his laving.

  49. - Belle - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 4:20 pm:

    If the State paid a fee for him, it is usually refundable at that level.
    How do you score jobs like this? I don’t know anyone who has ever lost their job and received such a huge severance for 3 mos on the job—stunning and an amazing waste of State money.

  50. - A modest proposal - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 4:54 pm:

    Belle - ISU is funded by the students and donors - only 20% of that money is state money.

    Waste of money for the students…

  51. - Nearly Normal - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 6:05 pm:

    Update from on the charges–

    BLOOMINGTON - The McLean County State’s Attorney Office has filed charges against Ex-Illinois State University President Timothy Flanagan.

    State’s Attorney Jason Chambers said Flanagan is being charged with one count of disorderly conduct - a Class C misdemeanor - relating to an incident in December 2013 between Flanagan and a former university employee.

    “All that we’ve done today is making that allegation,” said Chambers. “People need to keep in mind, that’s all that these are at this point; Mr. Flanagan is presumed innocent.”

    Chambers defined disorderly conduct as someone behaving “in an unreasonable manner which would alarm or disturb a reasonable person.”

    “That’s what he’s charged with here,” he said.

    Chambers said his office will conduct the investigation after originally thinking a special prosecutor might be used.

    “There was a definite conflict originally because my wife is employed at Illinois State University,” said Chambers. “Because of that, it was something where it wasn’t an appearance of a conflict, I had a direct conflict.”

    Flanagan officially resigned his post as president last Saturday and was quickly replaced by Dr. Larry Dietz. As part of his severance from ISU, Flanagan will be paid just over $480,000 and is allowed to remain in the Presidential Residence for the near future.

    Chambers said since Flanagan is no longer with ISU, there is no longer a conflict with his office.

    Flanagan will not be arrested. His first court appearance will be April 23 at 9 a.m. Chambers said the maximum penalty for disorderly conduct is 30 days in jail.

  52. - FSU Alum - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    President Flanagan is a successful gracious person who should not have bothered to criticize the landscaper. He would have been an asset to ISU which seems to want to destroy his outstanding reputation.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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