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Monday, January 20, 2014

M.L. King Day morning report: UA situation continues to bubble

Posted By on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 7:17 AM

click to enlarge JOHN DIAMOND: More questions.
  • JOHN DIAMOND: More questions.
It's a public holiday today and already things look slow.

However, I have heard from John Diamond, the former head of university relations at the University of Arkansas, about more of his research into ongoing activities in the Advancement Division since the firing of Brad Choate and hiring of Chris Wyrick. Diamond himself lost his job in battling with Chancellor David Gearhart over responding to press inquiries into the still deficit-ridden Advancement Division. Diamond contends Gearhart resisted openness and ordered document destruction. Gearhart denies this.

Diamond is raising questions now about compliance with university regulations in hiring and raises under the new regime. (It's an almost $10 million payroll, with dozens of employees.) He also promises later today e-mails related to the moves that he received under the FOI . He says they indicate an awareness of procedural issues.

I can't vouch for what Diamond has found at this point. But it might be another reason for UA trustees not to hurry out the cans of whitewash and brushes for their meeting later this week.

PS — Advertising executive Randy Wilbourn copied me on a letter he'd sent to the UA Board in response to my item posting trustee e-mail addresses for any who might like to weigh in. He's a Gearhart fan. The letter follows:

Dear Trustees,

In a recent posting on The Arkansas Times blog, editor/reporter Max Brantley posted your email addresses and urged readers to contact you regarding Chancellor David Gearhart. I find Mr. Brantley's motives obscure, but my feelings about Chancellor Gearhart are very clear. I believe that he is a remarkable academic leader and one of the most important thought leaders in our state. Mark me down as an ardent supporter of Dave Gearhart.

We met in graduate school, but it was later, when he served as the development leader at Hendrix College, that my deep respect for him began.

As a young Hendrix alum, I was not supporting the school. House payments, car notes and children's shoes were top of mind in those days. David sold me on participation and on keeping a connection with Hendrix. Because of his persistence, my connections with the school grew, and years later led to my becoming a Hendrix trustee. As a trustee, I can look back on the growth of Hendrix in terms of brick and mortar, but more important is its growth as a center for intellectual excellence, and it is in that progress that Dave Gearhart's tracks can best be seen. The successful capitol campaign Hendrix recently completed started with the excellent work Dave began years ago.

Every great leader has detractors. Every flaw, large or small, that occurs under their tenures gets magnified. Success is often downplayed or overlooked. Envy, and its insidious brother jealousy, ride roughshod over success and accomplishment. Sadly, we see this reflected in our media time after time.

Please join me in thanking Dave for what is happening in Fayetteville and in supporting his leadership. I am very proud to have a strong, accomplished Arkansan leading the University of Arkansas.


Sincerely,

Randy Wilbourn

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