Eastern Gateway, Bruce Finalize Separation

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Former Eastern Gateway Community College’s former president, Jimmie Bruce, is done working at the institution but he will remain on its payroll through the middle of 2021. 

In a statement released Monday, Eastern Gateway – which has campuses in Steubenville and downtown Youngstown – said it had finalized an “end of employment agreement” with Bruce, whom it hired as president in March 2015. 

“The Board and the entire EGCC community are grateful for the great progress made by the College under Dr. Bruce’s leadership and recognize his many accomplishments as President,” Eastern Gateway said in the release. “We wish him every success in his future endeavors.”

According to the agreement, Bruce gave 90 days notice of his intent to resign March 31 with the resignation to take effect June 30. He will continue to be paid his contractual salary of $250,000 per annum, plus deferred compensation of $5,000 per annum throughout the professional development leave period, as well as for the period commencing at the expiration of the agreement and continuing through June 30, 2021.

The community college’s board of trustees voted unanimously Jan. 15 to authorize chairman Jim Gasior to terminate Bruce’s contract in accordance with the terms of his employment agreement with Eastern Gateway, citing “dereliction of duty and inappropriate management practices.” 

“Since then, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office represented the college through the steps of that process with Dr. Bruce’s legal counsel,” Eastern Gateway spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said in an email. “The March 31 date of resignation was one of the negotiated points between the two legal representatives.”

During the leave period and separation period, Bruce will receive the medical, dental and vision insurance benefits he was entitled to as a full-time employee, as well as contributions to the state teachers’ retirement system that are required by law and college policy. He also will be paid for all paid time off accrued but not used through the end of the leave period in a single lump sum on the next regular payroll date following June 30, but will no longer accrue vacation, sick leave or any other paid time off during the separation period.  

If Bruce secures “full-time comparable employment” with similar benefits, he “shall provide immediate written notice” and the compensation and benefits being provided by Eastern Gateway will cease. He will continue to be paid and receive the benefit if he gets part-time teaching, consulting or other part-time work during the separation period.  

The agreement also contains language to discourage Bruce or Eastern Gateway representatives from making remarks intended to “disparage or criticize” the other, and releasing the college and officials associated with it from legal claims by Bruce or his heirs and agents.

Bruce led Eastern Gateway “through a period of significant change and development,” making “enormous strides in technology, including the establishment of extensive online course capabilities and the implementation of a new technological infrastructure impacting nearly all aspects of the college’s operations,” according to the release. 

He also Bruce oversaw the major renovation and construction of several facilities, including labs, at the two campuses. “Among other successes under his leadership, the budget deficit was eliminated, student enrollment skyrocketed, retention and completion rates improved, and accreditation for the College was secured through 2026,” Eastern Gateway said. 

Michael Geoghegan will remain as interim president, as travel restrictions now in place and other measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus make conducting a presidential search “nearly impossible,” Wurst said. 

“The Board of Trustees will be meeting in May, and this is an expected discussion item,” she said.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.