Shaun McKay’s contract as Suffolk County Community College president will not be renewed next year, and a three-member trustee committee will recommend whether his tenure should end sooner, trustee board chair Theresa Sanders said Thursday.
Sanders made the disclosure in an interview with Newsday after the board of trustees' first public meeting after a trustee executive session Jan. 8 in which the board ordered McKay to take a paid leave of absence from his post. He earns $257,914 in annual salary, and receives a housing allowance of $38,011 a year and a car allowance of $12,785.
In that same three-hour executive session on the college's Brentwood campus, McKay also was told his contract would not be renewed as head of the 25,000 student, three campus school — the largest community college in the state system.
“We’re not going to extend the contract,” said Sanders, who declined to detail the reasons for he board’s decision. But she said, “It’s a big job . . . you can’t extend something, if you are not sure.”
While considering a renewal, other issues arose that needed to be addressed, said Sanders, who was not more specific.
“We don’t want to prolong this,” she said. “Questions have been raised, but we want to be fair to the president, clear the matters up and then to move forward.”
At the outset of Thursday’s meeting, Sanders also requested an executive session, which lasted more than an hour, “to discuss the medical, financial, credit or employment history of the college president.”
McKay did not return calls for comment.
McKay took 77 days of paid sick leave from April 2 to July 23 of last year. But shortly after his return, he asked trustees for a 10-year contract extension, and provided them with a glossy 16-page full color brochure of his achievements.
At his first trustees meeting after his sick leave, minutes also show McKay thanked them for allowing him to, “take time away and to be able to re-establish myself within the communities I serve and also to find time for myself and my family.”
Since his return, McKay has been less involved in day-to-day college operations and his relations with the faculty union, once his biggest supporter, have been strained, several college sources said.
McKay’s original contract, which Newsday obtained under the Freedom of Information Law, stipulates the board “shall act” on a contract renewal or extension by March 23 of the year before McKay’s contract expires. His current agreement, which represents his second extension, ends Aug. 15, 2020.
McKay’s contract also states “any renewal or extension shall not be automatic but rather shall be by mutual consent,” and “may be denied without cause.”
McKay can be “terminated at any time” if trustees determine he “suffers from . . . physical or mental incapacity” that prevents him from performing his duties, according to the agreement. He also can be terminated if he is found, “guilty of incompetence or misconduct,” or “conduct that constitutes moral turpitude.”
To reach that conclusion, the board chairman or the board must name a three-member committee to investigate such allegations once the board learns of them.
The board members on the panel considering early termination are Kevin O’Connor, Christopher Murray and Shirley Coverdale, Sanders said. So far they have held one meeting.
The committee has no time limit, but must make it recommendation to the board in writing and furnish the president with written notice of its findings.
Trustees must allow the president to appear — with a representative if he wants — and give him at least 14 days to prepare a written response. If he does not want to appear, the board can then act on the committee’s recommendation without further investigation and their “decision shall be final.”