Harden responds to ETF findings on Maki rehire

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Thomas K. Harden on Friday (Nov. 11) issued the following statement to faculty, staff and friends of the University. It pertains to the state Department of Employee Trust Funds’ finding that the rehire of Vice Chancellor Tom Maki was not in compliance with ETF policy.

Dear Faculty, Staff and Friends of UW-Green Bay,

Late this afternoon (Friday, Nov. 11), the University’s chief business officer, Tom Maki, received confidential notification from the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) that the agency’s review panel has judged his March 2011 retirement and subsequent rehiring not to be in compliance with ETF policy. Mr. Maki and I agree it is important for you to be aware of this finding at this early point in time.

I respectfully but strongly disagree with these findings. It is our intention to file an appeal and pursue due process in the resolution of this case.

The ETF letter to Mr. Maki was rather detailed, and as of this writing we have not had an opportunity to fully review the ruling. Additionally, given our interest in appeal, it would not be appropriate now to address the agency’s letter point-by-point.

I can tell you, however, that we have a fundamental disagreement with the review panel’s assertion that Mr. Maki’s termination “was not made with the good-faith intent of ending the employee-employer relationship” as required by statute. We will contest that finding. Tom’s intention was to retire, regardless of whether, later, he might be invited to return on a limited-term basis.

Tom Maki explored his possible options in advance of his initial separation date. That is true. We believe, however, that his inquiries were entirely permissible in keeping with publically posted ETF guidelines.

In closing, I want to reiterate that UW-Green Bay’s leadership does appreciate the larger public interest in this issue. In fact, we welcome new legislation that would update and clarify statewide policies regarding the practice of rehiring retired employees. Well-intentioned people who want only to follow the rules are put in a difficult position when policy guidelines and subsequent interpretations are ambiguous.

Thank you again for your continued support and understanding.

Thomas K. Harden