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Back too soon?

Nine months after abruptly leaving Ohio University for a job in Rhode Island, Bill Decatur has been named a finalist for the top finance job at the University of Akron.

Last October, Ohio University received perplexing news.

Bill Decatur, the university’s top finance administrator, had accepted a position at the Rhode Island School of Design, and would be gone by the time classes resumed for Winter Quarter.

Decatur was the second member of President Roderick McDavis’ administrative circle to jump ship, (Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl took the president gig at Otterbein College earlier that fall) and left as the university was slicing $13.75 million from its budget.

Yesterday, the Akron Beacon-Journal reported that Decatur’s stint in Rhode Island may have been short-lived.

The University of Akron will bring two more finalists to campus to interview for the job of chief financial officer.

William R. Decatur, executive vice president for finance and administration at the Rhode Island School of Design, and Richard L. Petrick, vice chancellor for finance and data management at the Ohio Board of Regents, will meet with the UA search committee and other interested parties on campus over the next two weeks.

Yep, that’s right. Just nine months after abruptly ditching OU’s finance team Decatur is applying for positions at other Ohio schools.

Decatur raked in $245,725 a year (plus benefits) as OU’s senior vice president for Finance and Administration. A polarizing figure, known for habitually skipping meetings with the press, Decatur’s departure from Athens confused many at OU. The job he accepted at RISD was almost a step backward in a career that included a year spent as interim president of the University of Toledo. He took a position with the same responsibilities and presumably higher pay but at a school only 1/10 the size of OU.

For the last nine months OU fielded two unsuccessful attempts to replace Decatur. The first search yielded 3 finalists, two of whom dropped out and the third was scrapped after a campus visit. The second search gave another set of three finalists…two of whom dropped out within the week.

OU’s finance team was nailed with yet another set back in May when Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings, who had personally crafted each of the previous three university budgets, announced she was headed to Otterbein to link back up with Krendl.

The new fiscal year began five days ago, with a permanent replacement named for neither Decatur or Vazquez-Skillings.

Decatur told The Post in October that he was not seeking another job when he was approached by a search firm for the RISD position. Other administrators corroborated this, adding that they were not aware Decatur had applied for other positions.

His application and finalist status for the Akron job make it seem that either:

1. Decatur lied. He was actively looking for another job, preferably one in Ohio and RISD was the first thing he could land.

2. Decatur has had a horrible time at RISD, so much so that he’s hoping to run back to the Buckeye State only months after arriving in Rhode Island.

Either way, there is more to this story than the press releases tell us. I’m interested to see if Decatur lands this gig or, if he ends up controlling the money at another Ohio college in the upcoming years.

If so, it could leave a bitter taste in the mouths of OU administrators next time they hit the Cutler Hall water cooler.

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About Wesley Lowery

I am an aspiring journalist, current enrolled at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. My three loves are religion, politics and standup comedy.


5 thoughts on “Back too soon?

  1. I thought the exact same thing when I saw the Beacon Journal article… It would be a slap in the face for OU if he accepted the same position at Akron, another Ohio public university.

    It also seems odd that OU is having such a hard time finding someone to fill Decatur’s shoes.

    Posted by Pam | July 6, 2010, 7:29 pm
  2. Thanks so much for getting this out there, Wes!

    Posted by TK | July 6, 2010, 8:47 pm
  3. The only question here is, once Akron rejects him, whether Decatur will become a finalist in the search to replace himself.

    Posted by Dave | July 7, 2010, 12:46 am
  4. I would love to know the reason for such a short stay here at RISD.

    Posted by RISD | July 8, 2010, 10:02 am


  1. Pingback: RISD’s Response: “Bill’s not going anywhere!” « Reporter's Notebook - July 20, 2010

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