Cathy Cole's position as chief of staff to the president was "eliminated" on Thursday afternoon by current UT Interim President Joe Johnson.
Cole had served as chief of staff to former UT President John W. Shumaker, but the validity of her position had been under question for weeks by legislators.
"I appreciate the work Dr. Cole did for President John Shumaker and the University of Tennessee during her tenure," Johnson said.
Johnson allowed for Cole to transition to her next career.
"Dr. Cole will use her accumulated annual leave, for which she will be paid in accordance with UT policy and state law," Johnson said. "In addition, she will receive pay for up to three months if she has not accepted other employment. The combination of annual leave and pay for up to three months gives Dr. Cole time for a transition to her next career."
Cole had been questioned twice by legislators of the state's Fiscal Review Committee in recent weeks for her role in the hiring of Shumaker.
Cole, a former executive with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, was chosen by former Gov. Don Sundquist to serve as the liaison between THEC and the selection process conducted by the university. She was then hired in April of 2002, almost six weeks before Shumaker became an official employee of the university. Cole had told legislators it was at the request of Shumaker that she be hired at UT to continue the work both had discussed during the search process for a new president.
Cole was originally hired as executive assistant to the president by former UT President Eli Fly but was later promoted to the position of chief of staff. When she first appeared at UT, her salary was set at $116,500, but she recently was making $120,000.
"I feel that this (decision) is a fair solution in recognition of a person with 25 years of employment in higher education with the longest period on the staff of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. I wish Dr. Cole the best," Johnson said.