The Unretiring Director

Charles O. Heller will step down as director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship in February, almost 10 years after he founded the center at the University of Maryland's business school.

The Dingman Center has a national reputation as a pioneer in entrepreneurship training, and works with venture capitalists and established business owners to help up-and-coming start-ups. Heller (shown below), a former CEO of several high-tech companies in Maryland, became a mentor to many area entrepreneurs during his tenure.

Heller will continue to advise the center and plans to get involved more deeply in the venture capital community -- and could form his own venture fund.

"I get a little upset because `retirement' is a word which is not permitted in our office nor in my home," he said. "I have no intention of retiring."

-- Terence O'Hara

(oharat@washpost.com)

DID YOU HEAR? . . .

"I figured, a million dollars is a million dollars, but what the hell."

-- Nebraska businessman Vinod Gupta, on his $1 million donation to Washington's millennium celebration on the Mall

Case's Options

Steve Case keeps exercising those cheap options he has for being CEO of America Online, and keeps making eye-popping amounts of money from it. This week a securities filing related that he exercised options on 610,000 shares in late October, buying them from AOL for 87 cents (!) a share and selling them for prices between $117.50 and $130 a share. Conservatively, that puts his profit at $71.1 million.

-- T.O.

Union Hopes

Of all the interested observers of the bid by St. Louis oil man Paul A. Novelly to take over Baltimore's Crown Central Petroleum, perhaps none was more overjoyed than the members of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers Union, or PACE.

PACE has been in an increasingly bitter fight with Crown and its CEO, Henry A. Rosenberg, since the company locked out union members at its two Texas refineries in 1996. While contract talks have never gotten off the ground, the union and its allies have been on a corporate campaign that resembles a kind of labor jihad. In churches all around Baltimore, fliers and posters criticizing Crown for its union-busting are prominently displayed. The campaign has gotten the support of Jesse Jackson, the NAACP and various other labor, civil rights and religious groups.

What cheered Pace the most about the Novelly bid was his statement, in a letter to Crown's board, about the union fight. Any merger, he said, would rely on the "satisfactory resolution of the boycott against Crown and its subsidiary by the [PACE] Union."

-- T.O.

$8,062,212

That is the amount Integrated Health Services Inc. has paid in direct cash compensation -- salary and bonuses -- to CEO Robert N. Elkins in the three years ended Dec. 31. During those three years, Integrated Health had a combined net loss of $55.1 million.

Elkins's direct pay, of course, doesn't include the $14 million the company contributed in 1998 to a trust for the benefit of his retirement, as well as the more than $1 million Integrated paid him in 1998 to lease a Gulfstream jet that he owns and has sole use of.

This week, Integrated, which owns subacute care facilities around the country, continued to blame the federal government's change in the Medicare payment system for its woes, writing down the value of its assets to the tune of $1.8 billion as its revenue predictions plummeted. It has missed millions in debt payments in recent weeks, and is facing a potential bankruptcy action as it seeks to restructure its $3 billion in debt.

-- T.O.