Community college votes to terminate president

The Community College of Philadelphia Board of Trustees on Thursday voted to terminate President Stephen M. Curtis without cause and to pay him $286,000 - a full year of salary and benefits, as prescribed in his contract.

Earlier this week, the college announced that Curtis who led the nearly 40,000-student college since 1999, would be leaving in September, more than two years before the expiration of his contract. They had declined to say whether he resigned or was forced out.

At the meeting, the board approved an “employment action” regarding the president after discussing the matter in private session. Board Chair Matt Bergheiser, executive director of the University City District, initially declined to say what the action was.

But pressed by The Inquirer for details, college spokeswoman Linda Wallace later said: “The board terminated his contract without cause.”

She provided a copy of Curtis’ contract, which outlines terms in the case of termination without cause. The board must give Curtis 90 days notice and pay him a full year’s salary and benefits which includes a car and housing allowance.

If Curtis, 68, chooses to retire, he also could be eligible for retirement benefits, the contract says.

Curtis, who attended the meeting, declined to comment.

He is leaving at a time of tension at the college, which has seen state and city financial support wane. In October, Mayor Nutter appointed himself and several key aides to seats on the board of trustees, in a clear and unprecedented move to take a more active leadership role. Curtis had drawn criticism amid protracted contract negotiations with faculty and staff. The contract, which expired in August 2011, remains unresolved.