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University retirees hold jobs in system

Two administrators who retired from top positions in the University System of Maryland are still being paid a total of about $190,000 a year to handle a far-reduced workload, much of it done from home, officials acknowledged yesterday.

Donald N. Langenberg, who retired as system chancellor in April last year, is receiving $110,000 a year on a rare "regents professorship" provided by the system.

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The professorship, which does not require him to teach any courses, supports his efforts to improve coordination between the state's colleges and high schools, Langenberg said yesterday. Most of that work is done by Internet from his home on the Eastern Shore, he said.

Charles F. Sturtz, who retired last year as vice president for administrative affairs at the University of Maryland, College Park, is on a $60,000 contract that calls for him to work 52 days a year as a "special assistant" to President C.D. "Dan" Mote Jr. Sturtz said he works half of those hours from his home in Montgomery County.

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In addition, Sturtz can go to the office for up to 26 additional days a year, as needed, at a rate of $770 a day, or up to $20,020. So far this year, he has used 15 of those days, earning $11,550.

Sturtz said he is handling real estate business for the university that used to be managed by an assistant vice president whose position is now vacant.

The post-retirement arrangements, first reported by the UM student newspaper The Diamondback, occur at a time when the university system is facing $120 million in state budget cuts, forcing tuition increases of 20 percent and more.

Meanwhile, the system has sent out pink slips to about 400 employees, officials confirmed this week.

Joe Lawrence, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 6,000 nonfaculty university workers, questioned the pay for retired officials.

"How many special assistants and special arrangements are out there? Over the past few days, there have been 20 layoffs of the not-so-special in College Park," he said. "The real crisis with these universities isn't a crisis of finances, it's a crisis of values. The administration is holding onto their cars, their homes, and now, it appears, their friends."

One other recent personnel move has drawn scrutiny:

Donald R. Riley stepped down in May from his position as UM's chief information officer, but he will continue to receive his $229,516 salary for 18 months in return for advising Mote on national information technology issues.

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System officials said yesterday that it is not unusual for administrators to continue to receive compensation after leaving their posts in exchange for carrying on their former duties at a reduced level.

"It seems to be a normal thing when someone has served a long period of time for them to work on some kind of related subject of interest for some benefit to the system," said Board of Regents Chairman Clifford M. Kendall.

Kendall, who was on the board but not its chairman when Langenberg retired, said he was not directly involved in creating the professorship. "I do recall that an arrangement of some sort was made for him," he said. "It seemed perfectly appropriate to me at the time."

Similarly, UM spokesman George Cathcart said he didn't see any problem with paying Sturtz for work that needs attention. "He is doing less and making less money than he was," he said.

Both Langenberg and Sturtz said yesterday they believe they are earning their pay.

Langenberg, 71, who served 12 years as chancellor, said only a few other regents professorships have been given by the board. The honor was bestowed after several years of tension between Langenberg and the regents, who some higher education officials say forced him to retire earlier than he wanted.

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The professorship allows him to continue efforts he was engaged in as chancellor to improve cooperation between colleges and K-12 schools, he said. First among these is helping oversee a $7.5 million program funded by the National Science Foundation to encourage coordination between the university system's science professors and high school science teachers in Montgomery County, he said.

Langenberg said he has helped organize seminars among professors and teachers designed to improve the science preparation of students entering college and to improve college instruction.

Langenberg, who was earning $349,000 in his last year as chancellor, said he is also working on a project to create a network linking the computer records of public schools around the state. The network would allow students to see how their grades measure up against others, provide better data for superintendents and policymakers and let students submit their transcripts to state colleges online rather than on paper.

Langenberg said the two-year regents professorship expires next summer, after which he may have his salary paid by UM's physics department, where he holds tenure and where he might teach a course.

The former chancellor has lambasted Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in letters to the editor for the system's budget cuts, but he dismissed concerns about his arrangement.

"I'm concerned about the budget climate ... but in my case I'm not particularly concerned," he said. "It's a situation where I'm getting paid and doing work like an awful lot of other people, and as far as I'm concerned that's appropriate."

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Sturtz, 66, said he is overseeing the real estate aspects of UM's planned $300 million research park and arranging partnerships with private developers building student housing. Such work was previously handled by an assistant vice president, a position left vacant due to budget woes.

As vice president for administrative affairs, Sturtz earned $195,000. That job was filled last year by John D. Porcari, transportation secretary under Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Sturtz said his current position will continue "indefinitely."

"The president wanted me to stay on and finish work on the research park," he said. "It's an extension of what I was doing at a rate of pay that is commensurate with what I was earning."

Lawrence, the union spokesman, said it is telling that Sturtz could handle the duties of an assistant vice president while working just a couple days a week.

"How many top-tier positions could be merged or simply eliminated and their duties done by colleagues?" he said. "We propose a review of senior management positions to determine which ones are expendable."


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