Mary Easley should step down from her position at North Carolina State University.
But system administrators need to take responsibility for the situation and their inability to foresee former Gov. Mike Easley’s involvement in his wife’s hiring.
The onus was on UNC-system leaders to prevent Mary Easley from receiving an unreasonable raise.
It is now clear that they failed to do so.
A recent report by State Auditor Beth Wood found that Mary Easley was overpaid by $91,000.
Yet it was the UNC-system Board of Governors that approved of Easley’s job and even voted to give her a hefty 88 percent pay raise last September.
“I am convinced that the proposed salary fits the job and is fully justified,” said UNC-system President Erskine Bowles in 2008. “This is a big and complex job.”
This summer, an investigation by The (Raleigh) News & Observer found that N.C. State administrators had conferred with members of Gov. Easley’s staff before giving his wife a job. N.C. State Chancellor James Oblinger and several other administrators resigned after the information was made public.
Political influence might have played a role in Easley’s hiring, but the question of her qualification — the issue that really matters — was ultimately left up to the administrators who approved of her hiring.
Since news broke about the details of Easley’s hiring, the spotlight has been firmly fixated on the former first lady — not her husband or the individuals responsible for her hiring and subsequent pay raise.
It’s about time UNC-system leaders take responsibility for their failure to foresee the possibility of a conflict of interest in Easley’s hiring.
The entire community needs to give Mary Easley a break until all of the facts are firmly established and the individuals responsible for her hiring have owned up to their mistakes.
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