University of Vermont President Dan Fogel is leaving UVM at month’s end — a full year before his planned departure — seemingly prompted by the scheduled release of an internal investigation into the relationship between his wife, Rachel Kahn-Fogel, and another university official.
Fogel will make the announcement official in a campus-wide email tomorrow morning. Shortly afterward, the UVM Board of Trustees will hold an emergency meeting. The agenda for the meeting largely consists of an executive session to deal with "contracts," which likely means the terms of Fogel's separation agreement.
On Tuesday, Fogel and UVM broke the news to various Vermont politicos, UVM trustees, UVM boosters and other supporters.
After the noontime board meeting, UVM Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Cioffi will take questions about Fogel’s departure and about who will be appointed to lead UVM in the coming months. UVM launched an official search for a new president, but will name an interim president in the coming week.
In March Fogel announced he would leave UVM in July 2012. That timetable began to alter in late April when UVM Trustees launched an internal investigation after a series of Seven Days inquiries raised questions about Kahn-Fogel’s relationship with a top university fundraiser.
The investigation into whether Kahn-Fogel violated UVM workplace policies is nearly complete and is likely to be released in early August. The inquiry also focused on whether UVM funds were misspent during Kahn-Fogel's six-plus year emotional relationship with Michael Schultz, an associate vice president of development in UVM’s office of Development and Alumni Relations.
UVM also investigated whether the university did anything improper when it issued Schultz’s doctoral dissertation — titled “Elucidating the Role of the University CEO’s Spouse in Development, Alumni Relations and Fund Raising.” A review found no undue influence by Kahn-Fogel on Schultz’s thesis, and that UVM approved it according to proper policies.
Schultz remains on paid administrative leave pending the release of the internal investigation.
In addition, tension between Kahn-Fogel and other top university officials may have forced those officials to leave UVM prematurely. Friction, too, occurred between Kahn-Fogel and individual trustees — to the point that Kahn-Fogel became upset that one former trustee would receive an honorary degree and boycotted trustee-sponsored events in response.
In an email last fall, Kahn-Fogel intimated that Fogel’s departure from UVM was not voluntary, though Fogel denies that he was forced out of office.
When he learned that news of the investigation would become public, Fogel revealed to Seven Days that Kahn-Fogel wanted it known that she had “long been in treatment for serious mental health issues with which she has struggled throughout her life.” Fogel then asked for her privacy, and his, to repair the damage that had been done to their own marriage as a result of the revelations. No mentions of Kahn-Fogel's "serious mental health" issues were ever mentioned in the more than 900 pages of documents that UVM turned over to Seven Days.
Fogel contends he knew nothing of his wife's relationship with Schultz.
Fogel’s tenure will be remembered as one of tremendous growth — in terms of campus size, bricks and mortar and top executives earning six-figure salaries. He’s also helped UVM set new fundraising records and helped re-establish UVM’s stance as a “public” Ivy.
Ironically, Fogel came to UVM under a cloud of controversy — refusing to live in Englesby House on campus — and is now leaving under one that is likely to temper any praise of his accomplishments in the past decade.
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