The Davenport Debacle

With the announcement of Vice President for University Advancement Lawrence Davenport’s resignation on April 2 came a whole slew of questions, outrage and confusion.

While Davenport reportedly resigned, he is still receiving $577,950 in severance pay that he would not be entitled to unless he were fired. As allegations and explanations come forward, only more questions are raised.

The vice president for advancement acts as a go-between for the university and donors and also acts as executive director of Florida Atlantic University Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation that receives and allocates donations for the benefit of the university.

Davenport was hired permanently in January 2006 after being in the position as an interim for six months.

In a University-wide e-mail, Brogan lists the reasons why Davenport was selected for the position, including his serving as the university’s executive vice president and chief operating officer and having a “long career in education and not-for-profit sectors…[he] had held significant fund-raising and advancement positions.”

However, the e-mail from the president explaining the situation with Davenport may have raised more questions.

Brogan writes that it “became apparent to me that he and I had some significant differences.” Among these differences, he cites leadership philosophies, communication styles and contrasting views on the best relationship “between the university and its support foundation.”

Brogan says that, taking the factors into consideration, he believed it was best to “make a change.”

When asked if Davenport was fired, Brogan said, “No, he was not…[but] I made a decision to change leadership.”

Brogan says FAU told Davenport “that a change had to be made,” essentially asking him for his resignation. “We had to enter into a settlement agreement that we would provide two years and 90 days of severance in contract, and the university would receive protection from litigation,” he says.

According to Brogan, he was acting in the best interest of both Davenport and the university as a whole.

“If we were to terminate Dr. Davenport’s employment, it might have affected his ability to find future employment,” Brogan wrote in his e-mail.

Despite the controversy over his decision, Brogan says this kind of deal is common when “a change in leadership is needed.” Often the two sides agree “to characterize a separation from employment as a resignation.”

The e-mail goes on to say that these agreements “often entail a full release of claims as part of the severance package.”

When asked if Davenport really needs “future employment” with a $577,950 severance, Brogan responded, “Only he knows that, because there’s two questions there regarding economic and professional goals.”

According to Brogan, there is nothing in the settlement agreement about Davenport losing the severance if he finds new employment.

Brogan says, “The bottom line is advancement.” FAU received $40 million in donations this year, which, according to him, is the most the university has ever raised in a year.

But he also says, “That can’t be attributed to anyone in particular,” specifically citing the advancement staff and foundation.

Student Body President Austin Shaw agrees that many people are responsible for the successful fundraising, including the FAU Foundation and President Brogan himself.

As for the Davenport issue, Shaw says, “I think the president acted correctly. He acted in the best interest of the students.”

Brogan also spoke about how he had entered into a “settlement agreement, with non-disparagement language.”

This means he cannot speak poorly of Davenport or hurt his reputation without sacrificing the university’s protection from possible lawsuits.

“Both sides come away with something they can accept,” Brogan explains. “Neither is satisfied; we have to pay, and he has to leave, but he can find future employment, and we get protection from litigation,” he says.