NJCU
NJCU

Updated at 6:29 p.m. on 7.22.22

NJCU is taking issue with reporting on the severance package due ex-president Sue Henderson.

On Tuesday, the Jersey Journal published an article suggesting that, when combined, the severance provisions of her contract “could push the total payout to Henderson to nearly $1 million.”

In a bullet-pointed email on Wednesday, addressed to the the “NJCU Community,” Acting President Jason Kroll set out the provisions of former president Henderson’s employment contract and wrote that it “did not contain any exit or severance package totaling $650,000 – $1,000,000.” Kroll also said that Henderson would not be receiving deferred compensation, which the Journal called “the largest perk.”

The email is printed below in its entirety.

According to Kroll, beginning on July 1, 2022, Henderson is being paid at 80 percent of her yearly salary of $360 thousand ($288 thousand) for a one year sabbatical, given a vehicle worth $62 thousand and will receive earned vacation time “not expected to exceed” $25 thousand.

In an email late this afternoon, Kroll further clarified the severance agreement.  “Henderson was paid regular salary of $360,000 a year through June 30, 2022. Effective July 1, 2022 she is on sabbatical at a salary of $288,000. The two do not run concurrently.”

On June 27, the NJCU board of trustees announced that the school was facing a “financial emergency” resulting from carrying a “recently intensified structural deficit” of $20 million that would likely trigger furloughs and layoffs of employees along with “managerial changes and possible union concessions.”

The same day, Henderson, the school’s president for the past decade, revealed she was leaving July 1, six months before her contract’s expiration. NJCU spokesman Ira Thor said Henderson “had been planning to step down at the end of the fiscal year (June 30) and had decided this months ago.”

The Jersey Journal article was based upon an analysis of documents obtained through an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) Request.  NJCU, said the Journal, “did not respond to questions about how much Henderson will be compensated in total, nor did they respond to any questions related to the exit agreement signed by Henderson and Scott, the board chairman.”

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Dear Members of the NJCU Community,

I’d like to address recent news regarding former President Sue Henderson’s employment contract.

Unfortunately, several published statements regarding her employment contract are inaccurate, and I’d like you to know the facts.

This is what happened:

All this information is publicly available and has been provided to anyone who has requested it.

  • Dr. Henderson has an employment agreement with the University. The fixed-term employment agreement was executed and ratified in 2017 and was set to expire December 31, 2022.  Her most recent base salary was set at $360,000 effective July 1, 2017.
  • The contract sets forth the exclusive terms and conditions of her employment, which were negotiated at that time through her independent legal counsel. It is a binding legal document.
  • Dr. Henderson was given concurrent faculty tenure as a full Professor of Mathematics upon her initial appointment as University president. This is memorialized in her 2017 employment agreement and is a practice consistent with most presidential appointments across higher education.
  • Upon the completion of her appointment as president, Dr. Henderson was contractually entitled to a 12-month sabbatical at 80% of her most recent base salary prior to commencing her tenured faculty position.
    Had Dr. Henderson elected to invoke her faculty appointment after the sabbatical, she would have also been entitled to 80% of her last base salary in that position. Dr. Henderson will not be invoking her faculty appointment after the completion of her sabbatical.
  • Dr. Henderson exercised the voluntary resignation provision of her employment agreement effective June 30, 2022, and began her 12-month sabbatical on July 1, 2022. She will receive a total of $288,000 under this provision for the entirety of the sabbatical.
  • Included in the contract is a housing stipend that concludes on December 31, 2022. She will also retain technology and the vehicle that the university leased on her behalf is being transferred to her pursuant to her 2017 employment contract. The title transfer is a taxable event equal to the Blue Book Value of the automobile and all transfer and income taxes will be paid by Dr. Henderson individually. Without subtracting the taxes, all of these benefits are valued at approximately $62,000.
  • Just as with any managerial employee of the university, Dr. Henderson receives payout of her earned vacation time upon her separation with the University on June 30, 2023. This is not expected to exceed $25,000.

This is what did not happen:

  • Dr. Henderson’s employment contract did not contain any exit or severance package totaling $650,000 – $1,000,000.
  • While her 2017 contract made Dr. Henderson eligible for bonuses, none were ever awarded.
  • If the University had established a 457(f) deferred compensation plan, Dr. Henderson would have been eligible for a deferred contribution of no less than 15% of her base salary. However, the University never established such a plan.

Dr. Henderson’s employment agreement is no different from those that most university presidents negotiate. In fact, at the time of her separation, her salary was the second lowest of all university presidents in New Jersey, and she is leaving the university with far fewer benefits than she would have received if the Board of Trustees had not accepted her early resignation.

The University is bound to honor the contractual terms of Dr. Henderson’s agreement, similar to how it must honor the collective bargaining rights of its unionized workforce—even during a period of fiscal emergency.

Nothing about the current financial crisis is easy, but please know that I will always be honest with you about what we are doing and why.

Sincerely,

Jason Kroll
Acting President
New Jersey City University 

Aaron Morrill

Aaron is a writer, musician and lawyer. Aaron attended Berklee College of Music and the State University of New York at Purchase. Aaron served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. He received a J.D....