Southeast continues to pay Nitzschke consulting fee

Tuesday, June 4, 2002

Financially strapped Southeast Missouri State University continues to pay former school president Dr. Dale Nitzschke for fund-raising work even as school officials look at furloughing or laying off employees.

Don Dickerson, president of the Board of Regents, said Monday that the board voted unanimously to retain Nitzschke as a consultant for another year. The action followed a closed-door meeting in the spring semester, but school officials didn't publicly comment on it until Monday in answer to questions from a reporter.

Nitzschke is finishing up his third year raising money for Southeast since he stepped down as university president. The new, one-year contract begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2003.

Dr. Ken Dobbins, university president, said the new contract is the same as the previous one-year agreement that paid Nitzschke $120,000 and provided up to $45,000 in expenses.

Nitzschke served as the university's fund-raising chancellor the first two years. Last year, the regents changed his title to consultant, removing him from the payroll as a university employee.

Dickerson said at the time that the change was made to avoid further criticism from State Auditor Claire McCaskill. Two years ago, she questioned the university's decision to allow Nitzschke as a school employee to handle fund raising from his home in Milford, Ohio.

Secured $12 million

Nitzschke has secured over $12 million in federal money for the university since he began raising funds for the school in 1999, Dobbins said.

Dickerson said, "We probably need him now more than at any other time."

With cuts in state funding, he said, it is even more important that the school get its share of federal dollars.

Dickerson said the university's entire advancement office works to raise money for the school.

But Nitzschke has been instrumental in getting federal dollars, he said.

"It's been really very good for us." Dickerson said.

In past years, Nitzschke's contract has angered some faculty who view the whole arrangement as a "Golden Parachute" for the former president. "Yes, some people resent this," said Giulio Venezian, Faculty Senate president. Venezian said he has heard complaints from some faculty.

Venezian said he and most faculty don't know exactly how much money Nitzschke has raised for the university. Even in the face of state funding cuts, faculty don't have a clear picture of the school's finances, he said.

"We know very little about the budget," Venezian said.

William L. Weber, an economics professor at Southeast, said it's unclear how much of the federal money Southeast might have obtained even without Nitzschke's services.

Weber said the federal dollars have gone for capital projects and not day-to-day operations. "The federal government is really good at creating physical capital, but then the state or the university has to pay the operating costs for that," he said. "So it does cost us something eventually."

But Dobbins said it's not all for bricks and mortar. Some of the federal money has gone for equipment for the Otto and Della Seabaugh Polytechnic Building, KRCU radio and the Southeast Missouri Regional Crime Lab.

Everything from the River Campus arts school development to the Perryville higher education center project benefit from federal funding, he said.

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