After stepping down from his position as chief of staff on Nov. 8, 2019 — and resuming the sole role of vice president of Communications and Marketing on Dec. 1, 2019 — Grant Heston was relieved of all his duties on Dec. 20, 2019, according to documents obtained by Knight News.
Heston tweeted Friday that December was his last month at the university.
“Grant’s departure was a mutual decision,” UCF interim President Thad Seymour said in a Friday statement. “I appreciate all he’s done for UCF and look forward to what he accomplishes next.”
According to documents obtained by Knight News, Heston’s Executive Service appointment was not continued beyond Dec. 20, 2019, and he was immediately relieved of all his duties.
Seymour cited University Regulation UCF-3.0122: “Resignation and Nonrenewal of Non-unit Faculty and Administrative and Professional Staff Members” in the document, and said Heston will receive 60 days’ pay in lieu of the notice.
According to the policy, “the decision to nonrenew a University employee shall not be based on constitutionally or statutorily impermissible grounds.” UCF spokesman Chad Binette said the language used in the letter on Dec. 20, 2019, is standard Human Resources language.
In a Dec. 5, 2019, position review completed by Human Resources, Heston received a performance rating of “Outstanding (5)” for the current performance rating year.
The document lists the basis of the analysis is “Review position for VP of Communications and Marketing.”
As chief of staff and vice president of Communications and Marketing, Heston’s salary was listed as $286,842 in the document.
Notes in the position analysis state a demotion — or returning to a previous role, in this case — typically adjusts the salary back to its prior salary before a promotion and factors in any increases that may have occurred. Before he was promoted to chief of staff, Heston earned $236,842.
“However, in this case, HR-Compensation recommends that the starting salary for Mr. Heston is $245,000 (the 75th percentile of the market),” the analysis reads. “This recommendation factors in Mr. Heston’s credentials along with a market review of the VP of Communications and Marketing position.”
Heston’s salary decreased by $41,842 when he resigned from chief of staff, according to the document. The new salary would have been $8,158 more than when he previously held the position.
Just 15 days after his effective start as the vice president of Communications and Marketing — and 10 days after the position analysis was completed by Human Resources — Seymour signed the document relieving Heston of all his duties.
Binette said Seymour sent an email to university leadership — including members of Communications and Marketing and the Office of the President — informing them of Heston’s departure on Friday.
Seymour said in the internal email he does not plan to hire or name an interim vice president in Heston’s place to allow the next president to have flexibility when building his or her own team.
“In terms of what’s next organizationally, I want to provide our next president maximum flexibility to build the team s/he wants,” Seymour said in the email. “Therefore, I will neither hire for the VP position now nor name an interim VP. Communications and Marketing and WUCF will report to me and continue to be led by Patrick Burt and Phil Hoffman, respectively.”
Seymour included a note from Heston at the bottom, thanking the recipients of the internal email for their friendship and kindness over the last 12 years.
In Heston’s internal email on Nov. 8, 2019, he said he never intended to remain chief of staff under a new president but rather served as chief of staff to help Seymour prepare UCF for its new president.
“Why not wait until later, you ask? Well, I’ve longed believed in the old saying that ‘what should be done eventually should be done immediately,’” Heston wrote in the email sent to members of the Office of the President on Nov. 8, 2019.
This is a developing story. Check back with Knight News for updates.