After serving less than two years, Jeremy Brown gets $300K severance payment

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: CHASE ALLGOOD - PCC President Jeremy Brown was removed from his position Monday night, May 18, weeks after it was reported that he applied for a job in Arkansas.The Portland Community College board voted Monday night to part ways with Jeremy Brown, the college president.

Board members unanimously approved a separation-in-service agreement that removes Brown from the position he has held for less than two years. The agreement included a $300,000 severance payment.

“This is a mutual parting of the ways,” Deanna Palm, PCC board chairwoman and president of the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce, said after the May 18 meeting. “The board and Dr. Brown realized they were each heading in different directions and have agreed to this separation-in-service.”

Palm said the board “thanks Dr. Brown for his service,” and “wishes him well in future endeavors.”

Under the four-page separation agreement, Brown will be on paid leave (with full benefits) until June 30, when his employment with PCC officially ends. On July 1, Brown will receive a payment of $100,000 (minus withholding) for wages. He also will be paid for his unused vacation time.

On Jan. 10, 2016, the college will pay Brown $200,000 in wages (minus withholding).

PCC also will pay $11,080 to Brown’s attorney, Judy Snyder of Portland.

In exchange, Brown agreed to release the college from any claims arising from his separation.

In an email sent to PCC faculty and staff Monday after the board vote, Palm wrote that the agreement takes effect immediately and “will enable Dr. Brown to explore other professional opportunities.”

She wouldn’t speak about Brown’s direction. As to why the board would agree to spend that kind of money to part ways with its president, Palm said: “This was a mutually agreed upon separation and part of that agreement included a financial settlement. Keep in mind that PCC is a complex institution — and the largest institution of higher education in the state.”

Applying for other jobs

The board made the decision after an executive session (closed to the public) meeting early Monday evening. It was the third executive session the board held after it was reported in late April that Brown was among the candidates applying for the chancellor’s job at Arkansas State University Mid-South campus in West Memphis.

Arkansas State University System officials whittled the list of more than five dozen hopefuls for the job to four finalists on May 5. The university hopes to hire a new chancellor by July 1.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported April 20 that Brown was among 54 candidates for the job. The newspaper sought the candidates’ names in a public records request.

News reports about Brown’s application for the job may have prompted two executive sessions by the PCC board on April 24 and again April 29. The board’s closed meetings focused on talks with the college’s attorneys.

The board asked Executive Vice President Sylvia Kelley to take over PCC’s day-to-day operations during Brown’s transition until an interim president can be appointed, which could take about a month.

Board members are expected to begin a national search for the next PCC president.

Five-year strategic plan

Brown took the reins of Portland Community College on July 1, 2013, becoming its sixth president since the college’s launch in 1961.

A native of Manchester, England, Brown served as president of Dowling College on Long Island and of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, part of the state’s public university system, prior to arriving to PCC. At Dowling, Brown helped support an increase in applications, retention, annual giving and a variety of new academic programs. During his four-year watch at Edinboro, the university saw record high enrollment, retention and annual giving. Brown’s tenure there also included oversight of more than $200 million in new and future construction projects.

Before these roles Brown was the provost and vice president for academic affairs at the State University of New York in Canton from 2003 to 2007. During Brown’s tenure, PCC created a comprehensive five-year strategic plan that was well received by students, faculty and support staff to guide future PCC strategic initiatives and investment priorities.

According to Palm, a timetable is set for the strategic plan’s implementation.

“The board is anxious to continue and move forward into the implementation process,” she said. That process, Palm added, will include opportunities for community input.

PCC is Oregon’s largest post-secondary institution and 19th largest in the nation, serving about 90,000 full- and part-time students. The college has four campuses, eight work force training and education centers, and 200 Portland-area community locations. The PCC district covers 1,500 square miles in northwest Oregon.

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