Opinion

Commentary: Mary Easley is wrong to appeal N.C. State job loss

It was too much to hope for that former first lady Mary Easley would go quietly. We had hoped she would recognize the impropriety in how she was hired at N.C. State University, and the enormous harm the episode has inflicted on the school, the university system and her own reputation.

We had hoped she would let NCSU's decision to sever relations be the end of the matter.

She's not. She's appealing.

It's her right. But she's wrong to do it.

We can only ponder why she's persisting. Sure, money is involved but she's not destitute. Maybe it's pride and power. Once you've lived in the Governor's Mansion, treated with deference and catered to by people who put your needs first, it's probably hard to give that up.

Clearly the former first lady got a sweetheart deal of a job. It was created specifically for her, and she got it with the inappropriate assistance of her governor husband and high-ranking NCSU and university system officials. Her five-year salary totaling $850,000 was inflated and drew criticism from the start. N.C. State Provost Larry Nielsen, N.C. State trustees chairman McQueen Campbell and Chancellor James Oblinger all resigned after revelations of their involvement in the hiring.

Yet Easley wouldn't budge from her job as head of a public safety leadership center and prominent speaker bureau, even as an e-mail trail pointed to the pressure that was brought to hire her, and as NCSU and UNC system officials urged her to resign voluntarily.

In the end, Jim Woodward, who became NCSU's interim chancellor after Oblinger resigned, had to fire her after the university shelved the development of an academic center and funding was cut for the speakers series.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.

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