Oxford American Update | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Oxford American Update

Posted By on Wed, Apr 2, 2008 at 3:13 PM

As expected, the board of the Oxford American has unanimously accepted a $140,000 infusion of cash from the University of Central Arkansas -- essentially a bailout in the wake of an employee embezzlement that might top $100,000. The University has already put over $500,000 into the OA since it came to campus in 2004.

There were a number of strings attached in exchange for the money. Among these: Warwick Sabin, V.P. for Communications at UCA and a member of the OA board, will take charge as publisher (Sabin will be unpaid int he position). The current publisher, Ray Wittenberg, will see his yearly salary cut in half -- from $50,000 to $25,000 -- and will take the titles of ad sales manager and development director.

UPDATE: Warwick came through with copies of UCA's offer and the offer as accepted today by the OA board. Both on the jump...

ARK BLOG: The original agreement offered by UCA...

March 28, 2008

To Members of the Board of Directors of The Oxford American Literary Project, Inc.:

UCA President Lu Hardin is willing to extend the additional $140,000 requested by Marc Smirnoff to address the immediate cash flow needs of The Oxford American magazine.

The money will be provided only if the Board of Directors of The Oxford American Literary Project, Inc. approves a formal agreement that includes the following conditions:

1.) The $140,000 will be repaid to UCA within six months.  The funds can be raised from outside sources.

2.) UCA will assume control over the business operations of The Oxford American magazine, including all budgetary decisions, all personnel decisions, financial controls and procedures, and auditing.

3.) UCA will take possession of all existing financial records of The Oxford American magazine, and an overall operational review will take place immediately.

4.) UCA and the Board of Directors of The Oxford American Literary Project, Inc. will conduct quarterly reviews of all financial transactions and approve future budget allocations.

As always, UCA will not intrude in the editorial content of the magazine.

*  *  *

ARK BLOG: And, here, changes to the original agreement which were approved today...

April 2, 2008

Proposed changes:

1.) Rex Nelson becomes chairman of the board of directors of The Oxford American Literary Project, Inc.

2.) The board of directors will meet regularly once a month for the next six months to review progress and make decisions as necessary.

3.) Warwick Sabin becomes publisher of The Oxford American to oversee the business and financial operations of the magazine.  This includes supervision of all personnel, monitoring cash flow and fundraising, and making management recommendations to the board of directors.  He will immediately conduct an overall operational review to assess the current situation and develop a plan to address it.

4.) Ray Wittenberg becomes sales manager (for advertising) and development director (for fundraising).  His salary will be reduced to $25,000 a year, with a 20 percent commission for advertising sales and fundraising.  He will manage the advertising sales team (Kathleen and Cristen), and he will be responsible for meeting pre-specified sales and fundraising goals.  His continued employment is subject to monthly performance reviews by the board of directors.

5.) Matt will continue in his role managing circulation/grants/marketing/website promotion.  He will be responsible for meeting pre-specified circulation and fundraising goals, and his continued employment is subject to monthly performance reviews by the board of directors.

6.) The Oxford American's Little Rock office will close effective May 1st, saving $15,000 a year.  Other cost-cutting measures will be immediately considered.

7.) A fundraising plan will be immediately developed in coordination with the board of directors, and the board will monitor its progress.

8.) The Oxford American will increase its recognition of UCA's support of the magazine, including an acknowledgment of UCA incorporated into the cover of each issue, as well as prominent publicity inside each edition.

9.) UCA and the Oxford American will work cooperatively to forge a closer relationship through increased academic and extracurricular opportunities for students and faculty in the broadest possible range of disciplines.

10.) As always, UCA will not intrude in the editorial content of the magazine.

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