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Bookstore manager takes early retirement

STANFORD -- Citing health concerns, Eldon Speed, manager of the Stanford Bookstore for 25 years, has taken early retirement.

Speed and his chief deputy, Philip Chiaramonte, became the focus of controversy in winter 1992 when the Stanford Daily wrote about the Bookstore's employee perquisites, including a vacation home the store leased from the two men and vehicles made available to at least eight managers. The student newspaper also disclosed that the store suffered a $1.8 million investment loss two years earlier, and reported that the store paid the university less than $40,000 in 1990-91 to lease land for its flagship operation on White Plaza.

The state attorney general's office has been auditing the operation to see if the store's compensation practices violated laws applicable to nonprofit organizations.

The store, governed by a board of faculty, staff and students, is a nonprofit public-benefit corporation, separate from the university.

In an Aug. 31 memorandum to the Bookstore staff, Speed said that "the past 19 months have been difficult. The stress of it has worn on all of us. Unfortunately, it has created some health problems for me."

He told the staff that he had asked the store's board of directors to grant him early retirement, and they had done so. "They did ask, however," he wrote, "that I stay on in a part-time advisory capacity. I have agreed to do that."

William Lazier, a member of the board and a professor of law (teaching) at Stanford, is acting as interim general manager until a successor is chosen. Lazier is a businessman who has been a lecturer at the Graduate School of Business. He teaches courses in business law, with particular emphasis on business ethics.

An independent study following the Daily's disclosures found no evidence of fraud, but criticized the board of directors and senior management for lax oversight and poor judgment.

As a result, the board's governance structure is being strengthened, the vacation home is up for sale and compensation practices are being modified.


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