Archived News

Former chancellor Bardo lands new job after a year of lingering on WCU’s payroll

John Bardo, the former chancellor for Western Carolina University, has gotten a job. He will take over as the new chancellor for Wichita State University in Kansas in July.

Bardo retired last summer from Western Carolina University after 16 years in the post. He has spent the past year doing research based in the Raleigh-area, although he has remained on WCU’s payroll thanks to a generous state policy for retired university chancellors.

He has been making $280,000 — his full chancellor’s salary still paid by WCU — to conduct research. The policy expects chancellors to commit to a year of teaching after enjoying their year of paid research. Bardo had said he indeed intended to return to teach at WCU.

Now he will not be doing so, but he will not be required to repay the salary he has gotten under the state policy, according to UNC board of governors’ policy.

The policy was actually changed recently, making it less generous than it had been. But Bardo is entitled to the earlier, more generous version that was in force when he was hired

“That earlier policy did not require the repayment of research leave if a departing chancellor elected to take a job elsewhere before returning to the classroom,” spokeswoman Joni Worthington wrote in an email.

Related Items

The policy that allowed Bardo the year for research leave was revised in 2010 by the UNC Board of Governors. Board members decided the policy, the one Bardo falls under, was overly generous and did not hold outgoing chancellors and presidents accountable for the money they were earning.

The new policy allows chancellors and presidents who are returning to the classroom six months pay at levels that are in-line with other faculty rather than their old chancellor’s salary. It also specifies certain work requirements be met and stipulates that before-and-after reviews be conducted of any research done.

“Under the revised policy, which applies to individuals who were hired into their administrative position on or after January 8, 2010, the UNC president is authorized, at his or her discretion, to require repayment of compensation paid during the leave period in the event that a chancellor does not assume a faculty position as anticipated” Worthington wrote.

Bardo did not respond to an email request for an interview about whether he intended to repay the money. In addition to the large salary being paid by WCU, Bardo this year also received a fringe-benefits package that included retirement and health insurance.

Bardo in March told The Smoky Mountain News that his research looks at the relationships between higher education, the economy and community development. The theme is a familiar one that he often addressed and promoted during his time as WCU’s chancellor. He noted that he was building a  “live database” so that he can add variables as they become available, allowing him to extend the analysis.

WCU’s former chancellor said that he was working on a book-length manuscript that would make specific recommendations on two fronts: Ways that states might re-structure their higher education institutions to align them more with changing external conditions; and how these recommendations affect internal university operations.

The move to Witchita marks a homecoming of sorts for Bardo. Bardo started his career at Wichita State. From 1976 to 1977 he was graduate coordinator of the master of urban studies program, and from 1978 to 1983 he was chair of Wichita State’s department of sociology and social work. He has family in the Wichita area.

In a Wichita State news release, Bardo was quoted as saying he was excited about his new job.

“Wichita State is a wonderful university with great potential,” Bardo said. “Wichita is a tremendous community and we’re delighted to be back.”

Leave a comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.