The Northwest Museum of Arts and Cultures board is standing behind its termination of its popular director.
Forrest Rodgers was fired by a committee of the MAC board in April in a decision that has angered many museum donors, members and volunteers.
After meeting in private on Wednesday, MAC Board President Bruce Howard announced that the board is “committed to working toward an amicable resolution.” But board members refused to explain if that meant that it was reconsidering Rodgers’ termination.
A letter sent to Rodgers’s attorney after the meeting, however, appears to show that the board isn’t open to rehiring him.
Instead, the board offered him a deal to pay him through the end of June if he agreed to release any claims against the MAC and board and sign a “non-disparagement” agreement.
The letter for the first time outlines reasons for the termination, though the board also argues that Rodgers is a probationary employee and that no reasons are needed.
In the letter, the board’s attorney, Maureen McGuire, who works for the state Attorney General’s Office, argues that the decision was based on “poor performance” especially related to Rodgers’ “failure” to implement plans to solve MAC’s financial problems and for his decision to spend “a significant amount” of funds that were not approved by the board.
Bob Dunn, Rodgers’s attorney, called the reasons cited by the MAC board “after-the-fact, cover-your-butt rhetoric.”
Earlier this week, Rodgers said that two contracts raised as concerns during the open portion of Wednesday’s MAC board were never given to him as reasons for his termination. They totaled about $50,000, and he said they were under the amount that needed board approval according to rules in place at the museum and in his previous jobs. The contracts were covered with the MAC’s private funds.
Rodgers’ supporters say he has brought innovative leadership to a museum that has been led for several years by directors who have no museum experience. They also question how the board could expect Rodgers to have fixed the MAC’s significant financial problems after only being on board for eight months.
Rodgers was terminated in April by the board’s executive committee in violation of board rules because it was not decided by the entire board. The full board of trustees later upheld the firing in a 13-7 vote.
A new slate of board officers was elected at Wednesday’s meeting, and seven members’ leave the board at the end of the month, mostly as a result of their terms expiring.