Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Atkinson to receive more than $419K after she steps down from KU Med position

By ANDY HYLAND, The Lawrence Journal-World

Kansas University and its retiring KU Medical Center leader have reached an agreement that will pay Barbara Atkinson more than $419,000 after she officially steps down from her role on June 30 and outlines her departure from the university.

Atkinson announced earlier this month that she would be stepping down from her roles as executive vice chancellor of KUMC and executive dean of the KU School of Medicine on June 30.

Though the agreement states that Atkinson will be placed on administrative leave and would not be involved in any decisions relating to the university after April 9, she will be paid her normal salary, including housing and car allowances, through June 30. Atkinson earns $543,614 per year.

After she leaves, she agreed to take a one-time, lump sum payment of $419,253, which represents her unpaid salary through April 9, 2013, one year after the day the university announced she was stepping down.

The payment was taken instead of Atkinson taking a one-year sabbatical, said Tim Caboni, KU’s vice chancellor for public affairs.

“It is not unusual for folks who serve their institutions as long and as well as she has to receive a sabbatical at the end of her service,” Caboni said.

Caboni said the lump sum payment would be made using privately raised funds. He said he could not discuss the specific reasons why the proposal was made.

According to the written agreement, Atkinson agreed to vacate her office and return all university property, documents and equipment on or before Friday. She also agreed not to be involved with the operations of the university or direct any other personnel or actions after April 9.

The agreement also prohibits senior university leaders from making “materially negative comments” to anyone about Dr. Atkinson that might cause someone to question her “integrity, quality, competence or diligence.” Atkinson has a similar clause in the agreement that prevents her from making such comments about the university or its leadership.

She also agreed to make herself available for consulting to discuss university-related matters, and to release the university, the KU Hospital Authority, the Kansas Board of Regents, KU Physicians Inc. and other parties from any liability based on events occurring through the time the agreement was signed on April 18.

The agreement also includes a draft version of the press release distributed on April 9 that announced Atkinson’s departure and named Steven Stites as interim executive vice chancellor and dean of the medical school.

Left unspecified in the agreement is the employment status of Atkinson’s husband, G. William Atkinson, who works as a professor of general medicine at KUMC at a salary of $124,435. A KUMC spokesman said he was still employed and would see patients part time for now.

Barbara Atkinson reports to Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who would not discuss the agreement on Tuesday.

“What we’re focused on is the future of the medical center,” Caboni said.