Kentucky State Chief of Staff says he was terminated in state probe

Published 6:23 am Monday, July 26, 2021

Just two days after the launch of a state-backed “full, independent and transparent” review of Kentucky State University, at least one university administrator claims to have been terminated as a result.

Tymon Graham, chief of staff at KSU, told The State Journal that the state had a hand in his Thursday firing.

“I met with the Acting President Clara Ross Stamps and Director of Human Resources Candace Raglin yesterday and was advised that my termination was directed from the governor’s office and CPE (Council on Postsecondary Education),” Graham wrote on Friday.

Graham did not offer further comment.

Stamps confirmed Graham’s firing but said that she “absolutely” did not inform him of any involvement by the governor’s office or CPE, which is leading a probe into the school’s finances and more.

When asked if Graham’s termination had anything to do with the CPE review of KSU, Stamps said that the “cause for termination” was stated in the letter.

“Dr. Graham’s cause for termination is stated in his separation letter,” Stamps wrote. “The contents of the letter were the information discussed with him.”

The letter, sent from Raglin to Graham, does not state a reason for Graham’s firing other than reminding him that his employment is “at will,” meaning that he may be fired at any time. The letter also asked him to return any KSU property to campus by Monday.

CPE spokesperson Sue Patrick said on Saturday that her office can’t confirm any terminations because it can’t require that KSU fire anyone.

“We don’t have any authority to fire anyone at KSU and cannot require that they do so,” Patrick wrote. “All personnel decisions are made by the university.”

The acting president also mentioned to The State Journal that department heads such as herself — she oversees the president’s office where Graham works — can request the presence of HR professionals at termination meetings to “ensure compliance with the separation process.”

The probe, announced by the governor’s office and led by CPE President Aaron Thompson, began just after KSU President M. Christopher Brown II resigned this week amid concerns from university regents about the school’s financial condition.

Thompson, who served as interim president of KSU for about a year before Brown’s arrival in 2017, told WDRB News that his office’s review would also look into the school’s “structures and practices.”

According to his LinkedIn account, Graham spent his 3 1/2-year tenure at KSU working in the president’s office.

Graham came to the university in January 2018 as special assistant to the president for strategic initiatives. He later served as director for strategic initiatives before a promotion to chief of staff in September 2020.

As of April, Graham’s salary was just over $81,000.