Politics & Government

Mary Easley's N.C. State job duties hard to pin down

RALEIGH — Mary Easley's $170,000-a-year job at NCSU — which seems to be vanishing one big bite at a time — is an unusual mix of politics, insider connections and academia, according to a picture of her work that emerges from internal university e-mail, documents and interviews.

Amid calls for her to step down, the state's former first lady has held on to the job. It bears a single title, executive in residence, given when former NCSU Provost Larry Nielsen retooled her post and gave her an 88percent raise last summer. The job, though, is actually four part-time roles cobbled together. She was to create and direct a public safety center; run a speakers series, which she started in 2005; coordinate law-related academic programming; and teach half a class each semester.

NCSU Chancellor James Oblinger has said she is unique for the position. And UNC system President Erskine Bowles called it "a big, complex job" at the time of her raise.

But it's unclear from the records and interviews whether it ever was as big or as difficult as billed. Easley sometimes picked up the phone and ordered a speaker from an agency. She keeps irregular hours. There are serious questions about whether she has performed all the duties required under one part of her job description. And the salary she gets for teaching is far above the amount that another instructor is getting for the same work.

Her job is at the center of a mushrooming series of resignations and other inquiries, including a federal probe. It was strongly backed for years by Oblinger and Nielsen.

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