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Archibald helped raise $1 million as consultant, history museum says

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri History Museum says that former president Robert Archibald helped secure a $1 million donation during his six-month tenure as a consultant, but the arrangement has now ended, and it will not be renewed.

Archibald and the museum entered into the consulting agreement in December, when he resigned his position despite having signed a contract to serve as president for another year. That one-year pact was reduced from an earlier three-year one in the wake of disclosures about Archibald’s compensation and a land deal for property that was acquired for use as a community center but never developed.

Under the consulting agreement, Archibald was paid $270,000. John Roberts, who heads the museum’s board of trustees, said a big part of Archibald's duties would be to work with donors to assure them that though he was no longer president, the work that the museum had done under his leadership would continue.

“They want to give to someone they know,” Roberts told commissioners of the Zoo-Museum District at a hearing in February.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Roberts said during the six-month period that ended on Sunday, Archibald worked with “key donors to the museum from whom the museum had been in the process of soliciting philanthropic support in the months preceding his resignation.

“Through the efforts of Dr. Archibald, a significant pledge of $1 million that had been withdrawn earlier this year has now been fully reinstated. In addition, several relationships with potential major donors held by Dr. Archibald have now been transferred to other key museum staff through his counsel. I am confident these new relationships will continue to grow and be successful.”

Roberts’ statement concluded:

“I am pleased with the result of these efforts and believe Dr. Archibald fulfilled his obligations under the consulting contract. As the museum moves forward, the consulting agreement will not be extended or renewed.”

The history museum has begun the process of finding a successor to Archibald, hiring a firm to conduct a nationwide search at a cost of $100,000. It hopes that a new president can be in place by the end of the year.

In the meantime, retired Emerson executive Bob Cox came on board as interim president last month, on a part-time basis. He will be paid $85 an hour as an independent contractor, receiving no benefits other than his salary and reporting to Roberts and the board.

When he resigned, Archibald walked away from a contract that would have paid him a salary of $375,000 along with a housing allowance of $33,000 and the possibility of a raise and a bonus. He also received $566,000 for more than 400 unused vacation days.

Museum officials have said the vacation payout was made with private funds, not part of the $10 million the institution receives in tax money each year. But critics of the move said the museum’s money can’t really be separated like that, and all of its funds, private or public, are dependent on tax receipts.

Besides attracting criticism for the vacation payout, Archibald also has been the subject of close questioning over the purchase of property on Delmar in 2006 for $875,000. The site was bought from former Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr., who had once served on the museum’s board but was not a trustee when the deal was concluded.

No appraisal of the property was conducted at the time of the sale. A subsequent appraisal valued the land at $260,000.

As a result of the controversies surrounding Archibald’s compensation and the land deal, a new governing agreement was drawn up between the board of trustees and the commissioners of the museum’s subdistrict of the Zoo-Museum District, brokered by former U.S. Sen. John Danforth. It gives the subdistrict commissioners more authority in areas such as budget and compensation.

In addition to the appraisal conducted of the Delmar property, the museum was also the subject of an investigation by former U.S. Attorney Edward Dowd Jr. into allegations that documents were mishandled or destroyed. The preliminary results of the investigation found no evidence to support those allegations.

Other probes into the workings of the museum are being conducted by the circuit attorney’s office, a grand jury and an aldermanic committee. A spokeswoman for the circuit attorney’s office said Wednesday that no date for the release of its findings has been set.

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren. Dale reported for St. Louis Public Radio from 2013 to 2016.