The chairman of Suffolk University's Board of Trustees, who has come under fire for comments defending the college president's heft pay package, will step down.
President David Sargent announced today that his long-time friend and law school classmate Nicholas Macaronis, who has served as chairman for nearly a decade, is retiring from the board in February.
"The university has been a focal point of my life since I first attended Suffolk University Law School more than half a century ago . . . .," Macaronis wrote in a letter to Sargent on Friday. "However, I am 80 years old and I believe the time is right for new leadership on the Board of Trustees."
Macaronis, as well as Sargent, have face criticism from professors, alumni, and some board members in recent weeks for the way the university is governed. At Macaronis' urging, the board last month unexpectedly gave Sargent a two-year contract extension as an outward show of support amid criticism over news of Sargent's $1.5 million compensation package, the second-highest among private college leaders in 2008.
Sargent will be 82 when his contract expires July 2013, though several trustees have said they don't expect him to serve out the term.
Earlier this month, faculty criticized the board for what they view as the ill-timed contract extension, saying the negative national publicity has harmed the Beacon Hill university's reputation and its ability to raise money and attract strong applicants.
At the time, Macaronis told the Globe he would step down from the board when Sargent leaves the presidency and that "the whole running of Suffolk is under consideration."
"It is quite obvious that Chairman Macaronis has an uncommon love for and devotion to Suffolk University," Sargent wrote in an e-mail to the university community. "His efforts on behalf of Suffolk have been outstanding and tireless, and I am deeply grateful for his years of service and the many contributions he has made to this institution as Chairman of the Board."
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