Sununu Receives School Benefits Six Years After Leaving
MEDFORD, Mass. (AP) _ John Sununu remains on the faculty of Tufts University six years after he last taught there, an arrangement that has allowed his children to receive tuition waivers and aid from the school.
The New Hampshire governor, who is President-elect George Bush’s choice as White House chief of staff, has had two children enrolled in Tufts since he left the university and also has children attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., and Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.
The children attending Tufts are granted full tuition waivers and those at other colleges receive tuition subsidies from Tufts as part of faculty benefits Sununu has received during his six years on leave from the school, according to Tufts officials. Tuition at Tufts in the 1987-88 school year was $11,750.
An official who oversees faculty benefits at Tufts described Sununu’s arrangement as ″extremely rare,″ and said general school policy is to grant leaves for up to two years.
But policies governing such extended leaves by faculty at private colleges and universities vary greatly, with the longest leaves generally granted to professors who quit their academic posts for high-profile government assignments.
Sununu announced in May that he would not seek a fourth term as governor and has spent much of his time since then working for Bush. During the presidential campaign he served as a chief Bush surrogate attacking the record of Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, the Democrats’ nominee.
In announcing that he would not seek another term, Sununu cited his $68,000 a year gubernatorial salary as too small. His wife specifically said college tuition bills were a factor in her husband’s decision to leave his post.
As White House chief of staff, Sununu can earn up to $89,500, according to government pay scales.
Tufts officials confirmed Sununu remains on leave from his tenured teaching post in the mechanical engineering department but referred most questions about the circumstances of his leave to President Jean Mayer, who did not return repeated messages from The Associated Press.
Mayer’s secretary said the school president told her he would have no comment on Sununu’s status.
Sununu said last summer he intended to eventually return to teaching at Tufts but had not discussed a date with school officials. In the school’s latest catalog, published in Aug. 15, 1988, Sununu remains listed as an associate professor of mechanical engineering.
″Why not?″ he answered when asked if he believed it was appropriate for his children to continue to receive tuition waivers and assistance from Tufts.
Attempts to reach Sununu this week to discuss his status at Tufts were unsuccessful. Jerry Little, the governor’s spokesman, said Wednesday Sununu did not have time to conduct an interview.
Children of Tufts faculty members, and most other colleges and universities, are allowed to attend that school free of charge. Tufts policy also allows children of Tufts faculty to to receive $1,250 a semester for a maximum of $2,500 a year to help pay their bills at any other accredited college, according to Bernice Segal, academic affairs officer at Tufts.
Whether those benefits are extended to faculty members on leaves varies from school to school, according to an informal survey of a dozen private colleges and universities.
Sununu said he believed his children at Stanford and MIT received $1,250 a year from Tufts. He said he did not believe, as Ms. Segal said, that they were eligible for $2,500.
The school, citing confidentiality guidelines, refused to say how much assistance was given to Sununu children attending schools other than Tufts. But it releaseed the amount which they are eligible to receive.
Ms. Segal, to whom all questions about faculty benefits were referred, said all benefits are available to faculty on full leaves, including health and disability insurance. Sununu does not receive a salary from the school.
She termed it ″rare″ for a faculty member to be granted a leave of more than two years and ″extremely rare″ for a leave to be approved for five years or more.
A department chairman must recommend a faculty member for a leave and the recommendation must be approved by the school’s dean, she said. Leaves are reviewed annually, she said.
Tufts spokeswoman Rosemarie Van Camp disputed parts of Ms. Segal’s account and said extended leaves are ″routinely″ given to faculty members who enter the Foreign Service, an apparent reference to those who leave Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy for diplomatic jobs.
Ms. Van Camp said she could not recall any current or former faculty member except Sununu who had been granted an extended leave while holding elective office.
″I never asked for any different treatment,″ Sununu said last summer. ″This was all done by the board of trustees.″
Frederick C. Nelson, dean of Tufts School of Engineering, said Sununu’s leave ″was not an action of of my office. I suppose he asked for it to be continued but that was handled by the president’s office.″ He referred all other questions to Mayer.
Sununu joined the Mechanical Engineering faculty at Tufts in 1967 and remained in the post until he was first elected New Hampshire governor in November 1982.
His daughter Cathy graduated from Tufts in 1982, while Sununu still was teaching there.
Another daughter, Elizabeth, graduated in 1983, the first year of her father’s leave of absence and first year as governor.
A third daughter, Christina, a graduate of the University of Vermont, is currently enrolled in a graduate program at Tufts, according to school officials who refused to discuss her specific course of study.
Sununu’s son, John, attends MIT and his son, James, attends Stanford.