The retiring chief executive of Dearborn Federal Credit Union is being replaced - in a way - by three people.

In wake of the retirement of John R. Elkins, a 35-year veteran at Michigan's largest credit union, the office of the president was reorganized last week to eliminate the top position, president.

The no-president president's office will now consist of the heads of three key divisions, who will report directly to the board.

Linda Malec, chairman of the $840 million-asset institution, downplayed the move, insisting it was merely a cosmetic change.

"It's a continuation of what we basically had in place," she said. "Just one person has retired; there hasn't been a change in the people or job responsibilities."

Industry management consultants were surprised by, and in some cases dubious of, the reorganization.

"This is rare for credit unions," said John Andrews, a vice president for D. Hilton Associates.

"I'm not aware of any other large credit union that does this," said another consultant, who requested anonymity. "Decision-making tends to get bogged down in those situations and it gets unclear to people who's in charge. I certainly wish them the best of luck."

The consultant also said the troika structure smacks of an effort to stymie a single chief executive from becoming autocratic, suggesting that Mr. Elkins' departure wasn't amicable. Indeed, a Michigan industry source said there had been friction between Mr. Elkins and the board.

But Ms. Malec denied this."He just retired," she said. Mr. Elkins could not be located for comment.

The new top executives are: Ibrahim Madany, senior vice president of finance; Thomas Moylan, vice president of marketing; and Thomas Campbell, vice president of organization development.

In an interview, Mr. Moylan said the long experience of he and his peers at Dearborn Federal ensures that the new system will work well. Mr. Madany has been there for 30 years, and Mr. Moylan and Mr. Campbell have put in more than 20 years at the Ford credit union.

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