UCA Board cleans up | Arkansas Blog

Friday, March 6, 2009

UCA Board cleans up

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2009 at 5:05 PM

UCA Board President Rush Harding called a special board of trustees meeting to discuss two issues that have drawn criticism in UCA's tumultuous recent history. 

The items on today's agenda were tuition breaks for children of trustees and the doling out of presidential discretionary scholarships.  Two practices the board voted to do away with by the end of the current semester. 

The board also met in an executive session and made what Harding called "another great step in moving forward at UCA."

The board decided, at the request of former president Lu Hardin, to reduce his buyout (worth $670,162) by $84,992, the amount, in public funds, the former president is owed throughout the rest of this fiscal year.  Hardin is to receive four remaining paychecks from UCA totaling $101,437.68.  Of that, $84,992.84 is made up of state/UCA funds.  The other $16,449 is made up of private funds.  Hardin requested, and the board approved, to reduce the total amount of his buyout by $84,992, ensuring that the rest of the checks he is to receive from the school will be paid with private funds from now until the end of the fiscal year.  The total of the buyout would now come to $585,169.  The UCA Foundation will have to approve the decision.  Harding said the decision to use public funds to pay the former president had been a point of contention for the media and other critics, and he hopes the move will put the issue to bed.     

Debra Hale-Shelton of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette recently reported that children of current and former trustees have received an 80 percent discount on their tuition. Board member Scott Roussel is the only trustee with a child currently receiving the discount and has since said he did not plan on reimbursing the school. The board voted today, six to zero, to abolish the practice. Roussel abstained from the vote, but Harding says it was only to remain consistent with his abstention in a 2002 vote on a related matter. After the vote, Roussel thanked the board for clarifying the issue.

As for the presidential discretionary scholarships, the board voted unanimously to overhaul the process by which such scholarships are given out. The vote was in response to scholarships that had been given out by former President Lu Hardin without a hint of accountability. Harding says this was an issue that had to be resolved.

"It’s not right for the children of some parents to have access to financial aid that other children may not have access too. If someone had access to a pres. Disc. Scholarship because they were friends with a board member or a president, it doesn’t take much to see why that would be offensive to hard-working families who have to make sacrifices to send their children to college. So we did away with those types of scholarships at UCA, in their current form."

Harding says interim president Tom Courtway and vice president for administration Jack Gillean will be charged with coming up with a way to more efficiently administer those funds in the future. Harding said the amount of money available for those scholarships will be limited drastically and administrators will come up with need and merit based criteria that applicants would have to meet. A committee will also be created to evaluate applicants.


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