UA Board unites behind Chancellor Gearhart: UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Friday, January 24, 2014

UA Board unites behind Chancellor Gearhart: UPDATE

Posted By on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 9:54 AM


click to enlarge Gearhart: Trustees are sure he and the university will "do a better job" in the future.
  • Gearhart: Trustees are sure he and the university will "do a better job" in the future.

I'm expecting more before long, but apparently the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees this morning approved a resolution in support of Chancellor David Gearhart. He was praised for acknowledging past mistakes and working to avoid them in the future. The university will do better, Chair Jane Rogers pledged.

Well, let's hope so. Couldn't do much worse on accountability, public relations, bookkeeping, operating advancement division within a balanced budget (deficit still hasn't been corrected) and so on. 

At least they didn't throw in a pay raise on top of Gearhart's $550,000 in regular and deferred pay. Everybody else close to him seems to have gotten one this year, despite tight times.

It appears there was little discussion in public before the endorsement. The vote was unanimous. Given that at least some board members have had strong reservations about some of the recent events in Fayetteville, I"m guessing from afar that the tempered resolution — mistakes were made — was a compromise with an unqualified tribute.

That's too bad. A public discussion  of some of these issues — beyond merely accepting audit reports — might have been instructive. In days ahead, one area that needs a close look is how the UA's admitted sharp increase in enrollment owes so much to vigorous recruiting in Texas. Is it really a plus if numbers are swollen by making UA an adjunct of the University of Texas, in part by giving favorable tuition rates to Texans? Have qualified Arkansas kids been pushed out on account of this?

UPDATE: There is little to add. The board of trustees convened after an executive session that had begun the night before on a number of items and Rogers readwhich was then put into the form of a resolution. In it, Rogers says that the board is "committed to financial accountability and freedom of information" and pledges that "the university will do a better job in the future." 

PS — A UA spokesman asks that I note that school has cut-rate tuition for all border states and Kansas. Yes but 3,700, or 13 percent of UA students are from Texas. 

PPS — Read the statement by Rogers. Note that only she explicitly states personal support for Gearhart. Is that just sloppy drafting? Does it mean the Board was not unanimous except in a desire to move on? Several have noted the phrasing. Future events might answer the questions. 

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