Kelly Cronin
Kelly Cronin (Courtesy photo)

The University of Colorado system's top fundraising officer, Kelly Cronin, is being paid $151,250 under the terms of her separation from the university.

Cronin officially resigned Wednesday after CU President Bruce Benson announced that she was leaving in an email to fundraising staff members Friday.

Her resignation is effective June 30, said CU spokesman Ken McConnellogue.

The severance package includes three months' salary, which is a total of $90,750, plus a performance incentive of $60,500 for increasing donations to the university this year. Cronin did not have a contract, but the performance incentive was written into her offer letter last September, McConnellogue said.

She will also be paid her June salary of $30,250 because her resignation came after the month began, he said.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity I was given, and I'm proud of the work that I've done," Cronin said in an interview with the Daily Camera. "It's unfortunate that our working relationship is ending, however they have a great team and I know they'll do well in the future in fundraising."

Her decision to leave the university comes after a $40,000 external investigation into an allegation that her assistant eavesdropped on a closed-door meeting of the CU Foundation, the university's private, nonprofit fundraising arm.

The university is restructuring its fundraising operations and has been in talks with the CU Foundation's Board of Directors.


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At an April 17 meeting in Denver, the board moved into executive session, which is closed to non-board members. Cronin and Benson, who are both foundation board members and university employees, elected to excuse themselves from the meeting to give the board a chance to talk about its vision moving forward.

It was later discovered that Cronin's assistant had listened in on the closed-door meeting via a conference call for 37 minutes.

At the request of the CU Foundation, the university hired Patrick Ridley, an outside attorney, to conduct an investigation into the incident.

In a letter to Cronin dated June 3, CU chief legal counsel Patrick O'Rourke wrote that "the investigator found no evidence that you knew in advance that your employee intended to call into the executive session. The investigator also found no evidence that you directed the employee to call into the executive session."

McConnellogue had said the incident and subsequent investigation damaged the relationship between the CU Foundation and the university.

Cronin said in a meeting last week Benson discussed with her a reorganization effort that would have changed her job duties drastically.

He offered for her to take the top fundraising position at the campus level in Boulder, which is vacant.

After talking it over with her family, Cronin decided to move on.

"My husband and I just really feel like it's probably the right time for us to look at other opportunities," she said. "CU is going to do wonderful things in fundraising. I just think that my time here has probably run its course."

Cronin's job performance was not a factor in her decision to resign, McConnellogue said, as the university is on track to beat last year's record private philanthropy fundraising total of $128.8 million.

Cronin was hired Sept. 1, 2013, after the university decided to restructure its fundraising operations by bringing many CU Foundation employees over to the university.

Her position, vice president of advancement, was created last year on the recommendation of a consulting firm hired by CU.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or kutas@dailycamera.com.