Editor's note: Read about the information that Chandee Felder provided to the State Journal in the story "Former KSU staff regent says board should be removed for inaction on financial issues."
On the day before a piece featuring an interview with former Kentucky State University staff regent Chandee Felder criticizing the school’s board of regents was set to run in The State Journal, school administration fired her.
Felder, a former administrative assistant at the school, got a call from Human Resources Director Candice Raglin informing her of her termination from her position. Effective immediately, a letter from Raglin stated that Felder was fired due to an alleged violation of the school’s HR policy and ethics code as well as “gross misconduct.”
The letter does not say specifically what behaviors triggered her firing, but Felder indicated that it was likely connected to her criticism of the board of regents for its inaction on the school's financial issues.
The staff regent had warned several regents and conferred with some KSU staff about the school’s poor financial position before it became public when former president M. Christopher Brown II resigned on July 20, according to her testimony and documents she provided The State Journal.
Once board leadership had accepted Brown’s resignation, Board Chair Elaine Farris said that she did not believe the board was responsible for financial issues at the school because it did not receive reports that showed the full extent of the problems. Felder, who was the only regent to vote against Farris and Vice Chair Dalton Jantzen’s officer reelections, has openly begged to differ, documenting several occasions where she raised financial concerns to board members and staff.
Raglin, Acting President Clara Stamps, Board Chair Elaine Farris, and General Counsel Lisa Lang have yet to respond to a request for comment on Felder’s termination, and have not indicated who directed her firing.
Felder began her career at KSU 11 years ago, and was elected staff regent by her peers in 2019. She said that Brown encouraged her to run for the regent position at the time.
The letter Raglin sent to Felder indicates that the administration believes she did not conduct herself “in a manner that will maintain the public’s trust in the integrity of the university.”
“Your employment is terminated because you are in violation of (KSU’s ethics policy)... which stipulates that, “[t]hose acting on behalf of Kentucky State University have a duty to conduct themselves in a manner that will maintain the public’s trust in the integrity of the University,” The letter reads. “Furthermore, the Ethical Principles establishes guidelines for “professional conduct for University members, including Regents, executive officers, faculty, staff...to act compatibly with their obligation to the University.”
Felder told the State Journal that her point of view about the board had become well-known on campus in recent weeks, and that she prides herself on transparency.
“You can talk to anybody, and they’ll say ‘Chandee told me,’” Felder said. “I probably talk too much. It’s a bad habit.”
Felder, who expressed dismay at her firing in a brief interview, said that she spoke out because she believed it to be her fiduciary duty and that she loves the school where she has worked for the last 11 years.
“I love this university, and that was the only reason I did it,” Felder said.
As of Aug. 5, Felder was making $45,201 in base salary in her role as an Administrative Assistant III.