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The Missoula College dean, Shannon O'Brien, stands in one of three kitchen facilities that was being built for the expanding culinary program last fall.

KIRA VERCRUYSSEN, Missoulian

At least a couple of high-level officials at the University of Montana are among the estimated 90 employees accepting voluntary severance offers.

Wednesday, Missoula College Dean Shannon O'Brien confirmed she is among the employees who took a severance. 

"The truth is I want to spend more time with my family," said O'Brien, on the job two and a half years. "Being a dean takes a tremendous amount of time and energy, and I want to focus more of my energy with my family. I’ve got a little boy who is 8 years old."

Mario Schulzke, associate vice president of integrated communications and chief marketing officer, earlier announced he was recommending that UM dissolve his management position and another one in his unit. He confirmed he was accepting a severance offer.

UM had earlier made buyout offers to faculty members, and the UM Staff Senate pushed for equitable offers, with six months of pay, to classified employees. President Sheila Stearns said one goal of the staff offers is to reduce base budget obligations, although she also noted some departments will need to rehire to fill gaps.

According to UM's human resource office, the dean earned $116,790 and associate vice president of integrated communications made $122,157.

O'Brien said Monday will be her last day of work. In an email, Provost Beverly Edmond said she has chosen a two-stage process to fill the position of dean.

"I have asked Clint Reading, associate dean at Missoula College, to serve as acting dean effective with her departure," Edmond said. "In January, I will launch an internal search for someone to serve as interim dean and present a candidate for (incoming) President (Seth) Bodnar to consider at that time."

In a transition period over the first two weeks of January, interim President Stearns will pass on the presidency to Bodnar.

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Higher Education Reporter

Higher education / University of Montana reporter for the Missoulian.