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All his colleagues have departed, but Kurt Ayau will still be paid for a year while he seeks a new job.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
The Virginia Military Institute English professor who refused to either work or quit is now on an indefinite paid administrative leave.
Kurt Ayau, one of a group of seven embattled professors in the department and the only one who hasn’t resigned or retired, said the VMI administration offered the leave, which he said is non-punitive, and he took it as a way to maintain his income while he looks for another job.
According to a letter from VMI Dean Wane Schneiter to Ayau confirming the “indefinite” leave, Ayau will receive his full pay and benefits. His salary, according to public records, was $56,800 last school year. Ayau said he understands the leave is for one year.
The letter quotes the VMI Faculty Handbook that extended leaves may be granted when “in the best interests of the faculty member and the Institute.”
VMI spokesman Stewart MacInnis said he could not comment on the situation because it’s a personnel matter.
Ayau, 53, is one of a group of English professors who filed a formal complaint about the department chair and the head of the writing program and their performance evaluations. When the administration dismissed their complaint and blamed tensions in the department on the complaining faculty, those professors resigned or retired en masse.
Ayau, who has taught at VMI for 24 years, stayed behind but said in multiple press reports that he intended to resign, too.
Though Ayau never actually submitted a letter of resignation, Schneiter wrote to him in July that he accepted his resignation anyway, and that his last day would be Aug. 1.
MacInnis said Schneiter was just trying to get clarification on Ayau’s status, though he acknowledged the letter perhaps wasn’t the best way to do it.
Ayau protested that he never actually resigned, and that in fact he had been offered and accepted a new contract for the 2013-14 school year. At the same time, though, Ayau said he had no intention of actually showing up and teaching.
Ayau acknowledged it was a tactic to extract some form of severance pay from VMI to live on while he sought another job.
At an impasse, Schneiter requested a meeting with Ayau, which Ayau said he attended this week with his attorney.
In that meeting, Ayau said, he was offered the year of paid leave and accepted it.
At the same time, he was told to clean out his office.
Ayau said he told them that was not a problem. He’d already cleaned it out last spring.
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