Archive for Tuesday, March 6, 2012

KBA approves severance deal for interim CEO

March 6, 2012

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— The Kansas Bioscience Authority approved on Tuesday a severance package for its acting president and CEO that would pay him one year’s salary if he is removed from his position without cause.

David Vranicar joined the KBA in 2009 as president of the authority’s commercialization arm and was named as acting KBA president and CEO following the resignation of Tom Thornton in April 2011.

He earns a $221,375 base salary each year, in addition to being eligible for a bonus of up to 15 percent of his salary, which equates to just more than $33,000.

However, the board makes the decision to award bonuses at the end of the year and didn’t approve any bonuses for the 2011 fiscal year, said Dan Watkins, a Lawrence attorney and KBA board chairman.

Under the severance agreement, Vranicar would be eligible to receive any bonuses he had earned but had not been paid to him.

“The KBA appreciates David’s steady performance over the past year,” Watkins said. “This agreement provides incentive for him to continue his role as we work through a pretty significant change in board membership and continue to work with our stakeholders in building the biosciences in Kansas.”

Watkins said the agreement did not change Vranicar’s status as acting president and CEO.

The board approved the severance package during the last meeting before Gov. Sam Brownback will have the opportunity to appoint two new board members. The terms of former Democratic Gov. John Carlin and Sandra A.J. Lawrence expire on March 15.

Brownback has called the results of a forensic audit into the authority’s finances “deeply troubling,” though KBA leaders say the audit showed the authority’s investment programs were sound.

The KBA board members all voted to approve the severance agreement with the exception of Brownback’s Secretary of Commerce, Pat George, who abstained from the vote.

The KBA’s Board of Directors has 11 members who are appointed in a variety of ways.

Two of the 11 members are nonvoting members from the Kansas Board of Regents. Two other board seats are currently vacant.

Another board member, Earl McVicker, has been appointed to his position by the Speaker of the House but has yet to be formally approved by the Kansas Senate, Watkins said.

Vranicar declined comment Tuesday, saying the agreement was a board issue.

A memo from the law firm that drafted the severance agreement defines being “removed with cause” as criminal activity, failure to follow clear written directions from the KBA’s board or failure to follow company policy material to his duties.

Vranicar would also receive the severance if he resigns for “good reason,” defined in the agreement as a reduction of salary or bonus.

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