Beyond the ‘Burg: Keg ends Iowa college president’s career

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September 5, 2008

11:37 AM

Normally a mini-keg of Coors Light beer runs around $20, but last week a keg cost a college president his job.

Robert Paxton, formerly the president of Iowa Central Community College, resigned last Wednesday after a controversial photo surfaced earlier in August.

The photo shows Paxton, 52, standing in a group of student-aged people. Paxton appears to be holding the spigot of a keg open above a young woman’s mouth. In the bottom corner of the photo, another young woman pours vodka out of a bottle into someone’s mouth. The picture was sent anonymously to an Iowa newspaper, The Des Moines Register.

At first, Paxton denied knowledge of the photograph.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Paxton told the Register.

Later in the week, however, Paxton admitted that the picture had been taken at a July Fourth celebration on West Okoboji Lake, near the college.

When asked about the keg, Paxton claimed he had not been facilitating underage drinking.

“If you want to know the truth, the [keg] was broken. I never opened the tap on any keg … The thing didn’t
work,” Paxton said. “ You know, if I was doing anything, I was grabbing it and trying to put it back down.”

Paxton also told authorities that the younger man in the photograph was his 19-year-old son, whom he claims was not drinking.

“It’s my own private life,” Paxton said.

This is not Paxton’s first scandal.

In 2002, he was accused of felonious misconduct in office after allegedly tampering with athletes’ transcripts. The charges were dropped after Paxton accepted responsibility for manipulating public records.
Despite this, the Iowa Central Board of Trustees had not planned on taking formal action against Paxton because the alleged underage drinking in the photograph had not taken place on the community college’s campus. But when the photograph gained national media attention, the board decided that Paxton’s resignation would be best for the school. He was given $400,000 as a severance package.
Former Iowa Central Vice President of Financial Affairs Chuck Peterson was selected as interim president until a replacement for Paxton is found.

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