Documents obtained by lawyer show SFA to pay former president $800K severance

Pictured is Dr. Scott Gordon. (Source: Stephen F. Austin State University website)
Pictured is Dr. Scott Gordon. (Source: Stephen F. Austin State University website)(Stephen F. Austin State University website)
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 1:03 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2022 at 1:51 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches lawyer obtained a document that shows Stephen F. Austin State University paid offered Dr. Scott Gordon, the college’s former president, a severance package of more than $800,000.

Attorney Sean Hightower filed an Open Records Request for the document.

Back in April, SFA announced in a series of Tweets and a Facebook post that the university ad Gordon had mutually agreed for him to end his employment.

According to the three tweets, the Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents has appointed Dr. Steve Westbrook to serve as the interim president until a permanent president is hired.

Another tweet listed some of Gordon’s accomplishments. They include SFA’s success in navigating the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the establishment of a Distinguished High School program, the university’s progress toward the $100 million comprehensive capital campaign, its focus on engaging alumni, and its enhanced relations with community colleges and with both local and state businesses and political leaders.

“The Board of Regents wishes to thank Dr. Gordon for his services and to acknowledge the accomplishments of his administration,” one tweet stated.

SFA paid Gordon $404,562.23 on May 1, according to the document. It does not include “additional perks, expense allowance, or other fringe benefits, except or this benefits which have already vested as stipulated by law.” Gordon was also paid for his remaining vested vacation benefits, timely submitted reimbursable expenses, and for the days he worked in April.

Gordon is set to receive the second payment of $404,562.23, minus applicable withholding, on Sept. 1.

Hightower obtained another document that showed a total of 45 people signed a confidentiality agreement about Gordon’s severance pay.

“I agree to hold as strictly confidential all Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) information regarding the components of any agreement that may exist between SFA and Dr. Gordon, the circumstances surrounding Gordon’s separation of employment from SFA, and any monetary payment that may have been made to Dr. Gordon.,” the agreement stated.

The agreement also stated that the signer did not have to restrict himself or herself from answering questions or providing information in response to a court subpoena or a request under the Texas Public Information Act.

While Gordon served as SFA’s president, he supervised more than 1,800 employees and provided the vision for a university attended by more than 13,000 students. He also managed a yearly budget of more than $275 million, according to his curriculum vitae on the SFA website.

Westbrook started with SFA in 1981, and he served as the vice president for university affairs from 2007 to 2020, according to a post on the SFA Facebook page He also served as the university’s interim president following the death of former president Dr. Baker Pattillo until Gordon was installed as the new president.

Previous stories: SFA, President Scott Gordon mutually agree to part ways

SFA board retains President Scott Gordon

SFA president responds to Faculty Senate calls for revocation of the contract, says ‘we have to work together’

President Gordon faces emotional SFA Faculty Senate during meeting

SFA regents vote to roll back president’s $85K raise

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