Iowa Central Community College President Robert Paxton has had his share of controversies, including a past indictment for fraud. However, it was a picture of Paxton holding the spigot of a small beer keg over the mouth of a young woman on the boat that finally convinced the school board to let him go. He will not go empty handed, however. He will eventually take an impressive $400,000 from the school — and can presumably keep the keg. Moreover, he could use the picture to secure a job as a spokesman in the recent campaign of university presidents to lower the drinking age for college students.
Paxton, 52, has served as president for 13 years as president of the Fort Dodge school and signed a new contract only two days before the picture on the boat was taken. The next day, his son (who was on the boat) was arrested for drunk driving. Paxton curiously insisted that the beer keg was broken and wasn’t pouring beer into the young woman’s mouth.
Initially, Paxton denied any knowledge of the July 4 photograph of Paxton but immediately changed his story when the reporter told him that College trustee Mark Crimmins had already told the newspaper that he had seen the picture.
The board was not sufficiently aggrieved by the 2002 indictment of Paxton and three faculty members for felonious misconduct in office, falsification of public records and tampering with public records. (A scandal involving false grades for student athletes). However, it took only eight minutes to vote to get rid of him over the keg picture. They voted, however, to give Paxton $200,000 in January 2009 and $200,000 in January 2010.
Trustee Larry Hecht explained that “The thing we struggled with was whether his personal life was, you know, his. I think we all thought that was true. On the other hand, his position — I guess what you do in your personal life does affect the public’s perception of what you do on the job.” Of course, there is that non-personal matter in 2002 that hardly created a positive public perception but led to Paxton’s renewal as president. It seems that the board waits, to paraphrase Oklahoma!, for the students to be as high as an elephant’s eye to shed a president.
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