GLENWOOD SPRINGS - The Colorado Mountain College Trustees on Thursday accepted, by telephone, the resignation of college President Stan Jensen.
Jensen, who has been president of the six-county community college for four years, is to receive a severance package of $500,000.
The president of the board of trustees, Glenn Davis of Avon, said Jensen's departure was not connected to the SourceGas Spring Valley compressor station controversy that erupted last May and is now in litigation.
The severance will come from the college's revenue reserve account for 2012-13, as ordered in a motion by Trustee Bob Taylor of Summit County.
Aside from the severance, no other details were released concerning a separation agreement outlining Jensen's departure.
The agreement, according to the trustees and their attorneys, is controlled by a confidentiality provision that prohibits any of the parties from discussing its contents.
The action was unanimously approved by Trustees Taylor, Kathy Goudy of Carbondale and Pat Chlouber of Leadville.
With board president Davis, who did not cast a vote, that group comprised a quorum of the board's membership, which is required for formal actions.
The vote came during a 15-minute special telephone conference call meeting of the trustees Thursday afternoon.
Jensen sat in on the meeting by telephone, but did not speak beyond acknowledging that he was present.
Attorneys Tim Whitsitt of Carbondale and Glenn Chadwick of Glenwood Springs also participated by phone. Whitsitt was hired by CMC in early December as special counsel for personnel matters, and Chadwick's law firm, Beattie, Chadwick and Houpt, has long represented the college.
In a written statement, Davis said "As a board, all of us wish to sincerely thank Dr. Jensen for his dedicated service to our college and to the students and constituents we serve. Each of us is impressed with Dr. Jensen's focus on the future, his innovative thinking and his tireless enthusiasm for what is best for students.
"Dr. Jensen's vision catapulted CMC's authorization to offer bachelor's degrees. The Isaacson School for New Media was founded under Jensen, and the beautiful $24 million academic center in Steamboat Springs was completed under his direction," Davis said.
Departure 'all about fit'
Thursday's meeting was the third called this month to discuss personnel matters of an undisclosed nature.
The agenda for Thursday's meeting was the only one to specifically mention Jensen's contract, although Davis said the meetings on Dec. 7 and 21 both were "tangentially about this subject."
Davis declined to elaborate about Jensen's resignation, except to say that "both parties felt it to be in both parties' best interests to make a change."
He said the split between the board and Jensen "is all about fit, more than anything else."
"This really does not have anything to do with the SourceGas matter," Davis said.
The college is embroiled in a lawsuit over its decision earlier this year to invalidate a contract with the natural gas utility SourceGas to build a compressor station on leased college land in Spring Valley east of Glenwood Springs.
Jensen negotiated and signed the agreement for the compressor station, which sparked a revolt among students, teachers and, ultimately, the trustees, all of whom questioned the propriety of the deal.
"If the SourceGas matter had not occurred, I'm not sure that anything would necessarily be different," Davis said Thursday.
He said at the recent special meetings, the trustees have, "in more general terms, been discussing the appropriate relations and responsibilities" between the board and the college president.
Jensen could not be reached for comment.
Jensen's current salary could not be obtained from school officials, because CMC is closed for the holidays.
Davis said when Jensen was first hired approximately four years ago, his salary was about $185,000. Davis did not know whether Jensen's salary had changed since then.
Under college policy, CMC senior vice president Jill Boyle will "have operational authority" over CMC until an interim president is named, according to CMC spokeswoman Debra Crawford.
Davis predicted that there will be a search for a new college president, but said the board has not discussed that yet.