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Tennessee to buy out ousted chancellor for $1.33 million

June 1, 2018

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The University of Tennessee has reached a deal that would buy out ousted chancellor Beverly Davenport for $1.33 million.

The university announced Friday that the audit and compliance committee will meet Tuesday with a settlement deal on the agenda.

If approved, Davenport’s final day will be Tuesday. Davenport would have been paid about $2 million over the next four years if she had stayed at the university.

“I believe it is important for us to reach this agreement to allow everyone to move forward,” President Joe DiPietro said in a release.

DiPietro announced May 2 that Davenport’s term as chancellor would end July 1 with her taking a faculty position in the college of communications and information despite DiPietro citing her communication skills among the reasons for his decision. Her original hiring in November 2016 allowed her to return to the faculty with tenure indefinitely after her tenure as chancellor.

Under the agreement, the university avoids a possible lawsuit. Davenport will agree not to look for a new job with the university or the state of Tennessee or do anything to criticize Tennessee. The university also says no taxpayer money, student tuition or fees or donor funds will be used to pay for Davenport’s settlement.

Davenport had been interim president of the University of Cincinnati when tapped to lead the large public university.

She took over in February 2017 with a tenure that included the rocky search for a football coach that resulted in the removal of athletic director John Currie just eight months after Davenport hired him. Currie eventually reached a $2.5 million settlement with the school, and former football coach Phillip Fulmer replaced him as athletic director.

DiPietro had said in his termination letter that Davenport’s one-on-one, small-group and business transactional communication skills were “very poor.” His other concerns with Davenport included her relationship with DiPietro and his leadership team, her inability to acclimate to the UT system, her lack of organization and failure to communicate a strategic vision to the campus.

Davenport was placed on administrative leave with pay until June 30 and was reassigned as a faculty member in the college of communications and information. Davenport was due to receive $438,750 for her faculty role each of the next four years, three-quarters of the $585,000 salary she was making as chancellor.

DiPietro said he was better off making a change rather than putting Davenport on a “formal performance improvement plan” because of the number of concerns needing to be addressed and the lack of trust in their relationship. DiPietro also cited the Board of Trustees’ lack of support for Davenport as well as his belief that she’d have similar problems with the new board.

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