KU Med Center agrees to severance for Atkinson

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- A leader of the University of Kansas Medical Center will be placed on administrative leave and is no longer involved in any university-related decisions under a severance agreement that will pay her more than $419,000 after she officially steps down in June.

University of Kansas officials announced the agreement Tuesday with Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of the Medical Center and executive dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/Iba5EU ).

Although she will be placed on administrative leave and has not been involved in university decisions since April 9, she will be paid her normal salary through June 30. Atkinson earns $543,614 per year. After she leaves, she agreed to take a lump sum payment of $419,253, which represents her unpaid salary through April 9, 2013, one year after the day the university announced she was stepping down.

The payment was agreed to rather than having Atkinson take a one-year sabbatical, said university spokesman Tim Caboni, who would not discuss specific reasons why the proposal was made.

"It is not unusual for folks who serve their institutions as long and as well as she has to receive a sabbatical at the end of her service," Caboni said.

Caboni said the lump sum payment would be made using privately raised funds.

According to the written agreement, Atkinson agreed to vacate her office and return all university property by Friday.

The agreement also prohibits senior university leaders from making negative comments about Atkinson that might cause someone to question her "integrity, quality, competence or diligence." Atkinson also agreed not to make similar comments about the university or its leadership.

She also agreed to make herself available for consulting to discuss university-related matters and to release the university, the Kansas Hospital Authority, the Kansas Board of Regents, Kansas Physicians Inc. and other parties from any liability based on events through the time the agreement was signed on April 18.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little would not discuss the agreement on Tuesday.