A scandalous romance among high-powered administrators at the University of Vermont has rocked the leafy campus and led to two major resignations.
The lucrative severance packages both men received after resigning has prompted a secondary scandal at the school.
Through a public records request made by a Vermont newspaper called Seven Days, it was revealed that University President Daniel Fogel's wife Rachel Kahn-Fogel was having an inappropriate relationship with Michael Schultz, the school's assistant vice president for development. Kahn-Fogel volunteered in Schultz's office.
And there's a twist to the alleged trysts. Schultz was earning his doctorate from the school by writing a dissertation about the role of the university president's spouse. His paper was titled, "Elucidating the Role of the University CEO's Spouse in Development, Alumni Relations, and Fundraising."
UVM Scandal Over "Inappropriate" Relationship and Severance
The university confirmed the authenticity and release of public records to Seven Days. The newspaper reports that the Kahn-Fogel sent suggestive emails to Schultz for over six years. She also went to extra lengths to make sure that Schultz was assigned to work with her for school related events she helped coordinate and organize.
After going out to dinner together in November 2004, Kahn-Fogel wrote a long email to Schultz about the evening. "From lake viewing to lake viewing, from kiss to kiss…I will never, never forget last night and the happiness I felt with you," she wrote.
In 2006, when Schultz apparently tried to end the relationship, Kahn-Fogel wrote a long and emotional letter.
"I am very sad…I had great hopes that you and I could keep seeing each other," she wrote. "I dread that it is just a time for you to detach from me forever and that you will never see me alone again and will stop loving me. It is torture not knowing," she wrote.
Last year, Schultz separated from his wife Pauline Manning.
The school's board of trustees released their review of the situation on Wednesday.
"I want to express both my regret that this situation was allowed to continue for as long as it did, and my confidence that we will effectively address these types of issues going forward," Trustee Chairman Robert Cioffi said in a statement.
The review called Kahn-Fogel's behavior "clearly inappropriate and imprudent," but also determined that no state laws or school policies were violated.
Fogel supported the investigation and said in statement, "It is good to have reached closure on this unfortunate matter, and I regret the distractions it has caused the University." The president resigned last month.
Schultz accepted a hefty severance package on Wednesday following the school's board of trustee's investigation and review.
Schultz's controversial severance package has many outraged. In addition to receiving a full year's salary in 2012, he will maintain all of his benefits through 2011 including, "medical insurance, life insurance, cell phone allowance, access to UVM fitness center and the Bailey Howe Library," according the separation agreement. The health insurance will continue through 2012 or until he finds another job. The university will also pay tuition for Schultz's three young children.
The university will also be paying for Fogel's resignation. He will take a one year leave, during which he will retain his full salary and benefits, valued at about $410,000. In 2013, he will return to the school with a position in the English department that will pay $195,000 a year.
In response to the pricey agreements, Cioffi said, "Certainly I have heard a significant amount of anger, frustration, and second-guessing around this situation, and I completely understand the reasons for those views. I recognize that it's a lot of money, but in the national marketplace for university presidents it is not at all out of line."