Jefferson Public Radio Executive Director Ron Kramer has been terminated by Southern Oregon University effective June 30.
"I'll confirm that Ron was given his 90-day notice," said Steve Nelson, JPR Foundation president. SOU President Mary Cullinan on Friday gave Kramer the termination letter, he said.
Nelson said the letter came after the foundation and Kramer agreed to hold mediation sessions with the university over Kramer's dual roles as executive director of the foundation and of the radio stations.
Kramer's termination only affects his leadership of the JPR radio stations, not the foundation.
An Oregon University System audit determined that the university system was exposed to considerable liability by the close relationship between JPR and its fundraising arm, the foundation.
In particular, the audit cited a potential conflict of interest with Kramer's dual roles, which he has held since 1997. It also deemed the financial risk to SOU as "high" should the issues not be resolved.
Nelson said the foundation and Kramer received a letter from the Portland firm of Miller Nash LLP last week saying the state was prepared to take legal action.
"They advised Kramer to seek legal advice," he said.
Nelson said he hopes that Kramer will continue on as executive director of the foundation even as the university terminates his leadership of the radio stations.
He said there might be some "wiggle room" concerning Kramer's termination date of June 30. Nelson said he wasn't aware of a replacement for Kramer's position yet.
Kramer would lose most of his $94,728 salary. Only $12,500 of his salary comes from the foundation, according to the foundation's tax filings.
Nelson said the behind-the-scenes reasons for Kramer's termination will become more apparent in the next few days.
He said the termination has nothing to do with Kramer's abilities as executive director or with any financial problems, other than the objections raised by the state.
Nelson said Kramer would not be making any statements on the situation until after he meets with his attorney today.
Nelson said the foundation owns the Holly Theatre in downtown Medford. A warehouse on 10th Street has been donated to the foundation by Bruce Larson. It has been appraised at $500,000.
The foundation plans to convert the warehouse area into "Jefferson Square."
The combined cost to renovate the Holly and to create a new headquarters for JPR is estimated at $7 million.
Part of the renovation of the Holly is under way.
Despite the major blow from the state university officials, Nelson said the foundation plans to press ahead with fundraising efforts.
"This is not going to halt the foundation's efforts to deliver the Holly and Jefferson Square," he said.
SOU spokesman Jim Beaver said he couldn't confirm or deny any reports of Kramer's termination, saying that it is a confidential employee matter.
He did say that employee contracts run until the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30.
The Oregon University System audit concluded the foundation's debt ratio was twice as high as recommended, and said the foundation's need for $7 million in cash to fund the Holly Theatre restoration in Medford and move JPR's studios to Medford could put a strain on SOU's fundraising efforts for its own projects.
Nelson has said the audit focuses on debt from the projects but doesn't recognize the projects' income potential.
Kramer previously responded that being the executive director of the foundation is part of his job description and that separating the two positions would increase costs and could threaten the assets of the foundation.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.