Kean’s ‘general fund’ pays $75K settlement to former employee

Credit: Rebecca Panico

Credit: Rebecca Panico

By Rebecca Panico | Posted on November 19, 2015

A recent $75,000 settlement reached with a former Kean employee in September was paid using the university’s “general fund,” a school spokeswoman said.

Sherrell S. Holderman, 66, alleged that after 30 years of employment, she was “coerced” into retirement in 2011 because of her race, age and gender, her federal court documents from 2012 show.

Holderman worked as director of the PASSPORT program, which helps admit freshman applicants who don’t meet admission requirements but have potential to succeed and contribute to the university.

Eleven other professional staff were laid off along with Holderman in 2011, none of who were white males. In total, seven employees – including Holderman – were black, two were Hispanic and nine were older than 40, her court documents state.

In settling, the university admits no wrongdoing. Holderman’s attorneys nor Margaret McCorry, Kean University’s spokeswoman, declined to comment on the outcome.

McCorry elaborated on who doles out the dough when it comes to Kean’s legal matters though.

McCorry explained that only tort lawsuits, or civil accident cases, are covered by the State Tort Claims Fund, while cases involving employment are paid using Kean’s general fund.

“If it is a tort claims matter such as an accident,” McCorry said in an email, “it is paid out of the State Tort Claims Fund, a state fund specially created by the legislature to pay tort claims. If it is an employment case, it is paid by the University out of the University’s general fund.”

She later added in another email: “The general fund is an account of revenue generated by University operations (such as rentals, etc.), the State appropriation, tuitions, and fees.”

In July, university officials increased tuition and fees by 3 percent, following suit with some nearby public universities. Yearly tuition and fees at Kean for an in-state, full-time student who commutes now amounts to $11,580, up $337 from last year.

The PASSPORT program was once handled by the Center for Academic Success (CAS) and is now under the auspices of the Educational Opportunities Center (EOC). Today, both departments face potential layoffs.

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