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Saturday, May 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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MAC panel supports Rodgers

Foundation’s vote sets up a showdown

The group that oversees much of the private funding for the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture says it lacks confidence in the leadership of the museum’s board following the controversial firing of the executive director.

The MAC’s foundation board on Monday voted 14-0 in support of a resolution requesting the reinstatement of the museum’s terminated director, Forrest Rodgers. The foundation board also called on the executive committee of the MAC’s board, which made the original decision to fire Rodgers, to resign, said Paul Ellyson, president of the foundation board.

“Our goal is to clean up the problems created by the executive committee of the MAC board,” said foundation board member Cece Perko. “We do not feel that Forrest Rodgers was at fault in any way for all of this.”

An attempt made to reach Chris Schnug, president of the MAC board, was unsuccessful on Monday.

Another member of the executive committee, Ron Rector, who is a former interim director of the museum, declined to comment.

The vote sets up a showdown on Wednesday when the MAC board holds a public meeting. Members of the foundation board are among the invited guests.

The seven-member executive committee of the MAC board, formally called the Eastern Washington State Historical Society Board of Trustees, fired Rodgers last month in a decision that violated its rules because the full board didn’t participate in the decision. The full board later voted 12-7 to uphold the termination after a closed meeting that Rodgers had asked to be open to the public.

Rodgers’ attorneys wrote the MAC board last week and asserted that Rodgers technically remains the director of the museum because the termination was conducted illegally. They said Rodgers is willing to assume his duties but if the termination is upheld he will file a tort claim for more than $750,000.

The MAC board has repeatedly declined to provide reasons for Rodgers’ ouster. Besides the foundation board, Rodgers enjoys strong support from the museum’s American Indian Cultural Council and from some members of the MAC board.

Rodgers, who earned $120,000 a year as the MAC’s director, was hired last summer. He is the former president and CEO of the High Desert Museum in Bend, Ore., and former executive director of the Central Washington University Foundation.

Ellyson said the foundation board may reconsider its resolution asking for resignations if the MAC board changes course and reinstates Rodgers and allows him to follow through on plans to stabilize museum finances.

Ellyson said he and some other foundation board members likely will resign unless Rodgers is reinstated.

“I don’t want to abandon ship at a time of need, but we’re powerless at this point unless they make some changes,” he said.

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