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Mid-Continent board fires Imhoffs

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

More than seven weeks after he stepped aside as president of Mid-Continent University, Robert Imhoff has been terminated for cause from the college, which is still struggling with serious financial problems.

The Board of Trustees unanimously voted to end Imhoff's contract, a three-year agreement that was to continue until 2015, four hours into a six-hour executive session Saturday at the school. The board would not comment about reasons for the firing.

The board also voted to dismiss wife Jackie Imhoff, an at-will salaried employee who had served as the vice president of adult services, during the same meeting, according to Board of Trustees Chairman Tom Butler.

Robert Imhoff had served as Mid-Continent president since 2000. He stepped aside officially on Feb. 24, and Jackie Imhoff left the following week, but both continued to received a salary until the vote on Saturday. 

Butler said the decision was effective Saturday and Imhoff will not receive any additional pay or benefit beyond that date. The vote didn't include a buyout of Imhoff's contract or a severance payment. Robert Imhoff was dismissed for cause, but Butler refused to say anything further about what led to the decision.  

"This is one step in a many-step process, and we are awaiting advice from legal counsel to proceed to the next steps," he said.

The school's current counsel is Thomas Miller of Whitlow, Roberts, Houston & Straub in Paducah. Butler said the school expects to receive a response from Robert and Jackie Imhoff and then act accordingly. He said the board didn't give the Imhoffs a deadline to move out of the president's residence, which sits on the Mayfield campus and is owned by the university.

Reached by phone Monday, Robert Imhoff said he and Jackie both plan to retire and move out of the president's house by June or sooner. Imhoff said he doesn't have any plans for legal action in regard to the early termination of his contract.

"We are just hoping for the best for the university and for the next submission (of paperwork to the federal Department of Education) to be done appropriately," Imhoff said.

At Saturday's board meeting, Robert "Tom" Walden was appointed the school's new acting president. He replaces Ken Winters, who stepped down due to family health issues.

Walden had served as the Mid-Continent vice president for academic affairs and is currently a member of the board. Butler said Walden has agreed to serve in the position for about one month, which would get the school to spring graduation set for May 10.

"He (Robert Walden) is familiar with our operation, and the board has confidence that he is what we need during this difficult time," Butler said. "His involvement and expertise made him a natural choice to fill the gap."

A team of representatives from the Department of Education's regional office in Kansas City, Mo., is currently on campus at the request of the university to help school officials who are preparing the next round of paperwork. 

The new, fifth submission will include a larger sampling of up to 500 current students, which would release $3 million to $4 million of the frozen student financial grant and loan assets.

The submission will take about two weeks to prepare. University officially then expect a reply from the department in two to three weeks from that date, Butler said.

Contact Kathleen Fox a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651, or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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