UUA board votes to limit president’s ability to grant severance packages

UUA board votes to limit president’s ability to grant severance packages

In second day of New Orleans meeting, Board of Trustees also caps how much president can spend without board approval.

Elaine McArdle
UUA Board of Trustees meets in New Orleans, June 20, 2017

The UUA Board of Trustees meets in New Orleans prior to the start of the General Assembly. (© Christopher L. Walton)

© Christopher L. Walton


In response to the revelation last week that the Unitarian Universalist Association had granted severance packages totaling more than $500,000 to a handful of employees who voluntarily resigned after President Peter Morales stepped down April 1 in the wake of the UUA hiring practices controversy, the UUA board on Wednesday voted to limit financial actions the president can take without board approval.

Two of the severance packages—one of which was approved by Chief Operating Officer Harlan Limpert, the other by Moderator Jim Key, before the board appointed interim co-presidents on April 10—have been roundly condemned by the co-presidents and by many others. The Board of Trustees did not learn about the packages until May 30.

To try to prevent a similar situation from happening in the future, the board voted unanimously to make two amendments to the UUA Governance Manual.

First, the board amended Section 2.7—which states that the president shall not cause or allow conditions that would jeopardize the UUA’s fiscal health—by adding a provision prohibiting the president from allowing spending in excess of 0.5 percent more than the board-approved, unrestricted budget unless the president has approval of the board.

That limit equates to about $75,000, said Tim Brennan, UUA treasurer and chief financial officer.

The board also voted to amend Section 2.4, regarding employee benefits and compensation, by prohibiting the president from offering a severance package to any employee that exceeds the package provided for in the employee manual without approval of the board. The president also cannot change the severance policy in the employee manual without board approval. The board approved this change unanimously.