Stephen F. Austin State University agreed to pay its former president Scott Gordon more than $800,000 in severance, according to a document obtained by a local lawyer through an open records request. Another document obtained by the lawyer showed that 45 people signed a confidentiality agreement barring them from speaking publicly about Gordon’s severance deal.
Gordon parted ways with the Texas-based public university in April, eight months after faculty raised objections to an $85,000 pay raise he received in April 2021. A year earlier, Gordon had called for voluntary retirements, academic cuts and staff furloughs to address a budget shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Faculty told The Texas Tribune that they did not receive salary bumps in 2021 due to budget problems.
Gordon returned the raise to the university in September, but the faculty passed a no-confidence resolution regardless. In the resolution, faculty called on the Board of Regents to revoke Gordon’s contract, accused the former president of bullying employees and objected to cuts he made to the class schedule, forcing 16-week courses to be taught in eight.
SFA Board of Regents chair Karen Gantt did not specify a reason for Gordon’s departure, but in social media posts the university said the parties “mutually agreed it was in the best interest of both” for Gordon to step down.
SFA State paid Gordon $404,562.23 on May 1, according to the document. He is set to receive a payment of the same amount on Sept. 1.
Steve Westbrook, who was SFA State’s vice president for university affairs from 2007 to 2020, was named interim president while the university searches for Gordon’s replacement.