Dr. Martha D. Saunders served as the ninth president at The University of Southern Mississippi. (Office of University Communications photo)
Former University of Southern Mississippi President Martha Saunders unexpectedly resigned from her position as president on April 27, 2012, and has been teaching mass communication classes at the Gulf Park campus since her departure.
The reasons behind Saunders resignation from Southern Miss are still unclear, but it's becoming more apparent that she fell out of favor with the state college board. Saunders' exit was carefully orchestrated by the board days before her resignation according to recently uncovered documents.
According to a separation agreement and general release document obtained through a public records request, "Dr. Saunders shall resign as President of USM effective June 30th and the board agrees to accept Dr. Saunders' resignation."
The agreement is dated on April 23, four days prior to her public resignation.
The agreement also states Saunders will not make any personnel decisions and contains a three-sentence mutually agreed upon announcement saying she would resign for personal reasons.
The document states that Saunders shall be employed full-time as a non-tenured professor at Gulf Park and shall report to the USM vice president in charge of the gulf coast campus.
Her salary was set at $110,000-a-year and could be renewed for up to two additional one-year terms. In addition, she would be paid $40,000 for one year for special duties, then $25,000 for years two and three.
The college board also gave its permission for Saunders to contract with the USM Foundation in a fundraising capacity for another $70,000. The document goes on to state if the foundation does not approve such a contract, the parties will work to identify other possible sources for the $70,000.
Meanwhile, the University of West Florida is expected to announce its new provost sometime this week and Saunders is one of three finalists on the preferred list. The announcement was expected last Friday, but a university official says an incorrect timeline was given out, and the selection should be announced this week.
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