Thursday, August 4, 2016

Resigned ASU chancellor may have violated law seeking financial assistance for family member

Posted By on Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 1:15 PM

click to enlarge HUDSON: Emails released by ASU appear to show him making attempts to get sweetheart financial-aid deals for a family member.
  • HUDSON: Emails released by ASU appear to show him making attempts to get sweetheart financial-aid deals for a family member.
Arkansas State University today released the second part of an audit, and related documents, on the activities of former ASU Chancellor Tim Hudson. Hudson resigned Tuesday, a few weeks  after his wife, Deidre Hudson, relinquished her job as study-abroad director. 

The latest documents show three examples of potential violations of state law by Hudson — emails that appear to show him attempting to get special financial-aid deals for a family member. The name of the family member Hudson was trying to help has been redacted but appears to be his child. 

In November of 2015, Hudson sent an email to an official from  the New York Institute of Technology, a partner institution which has a location for its College of Osteopathic Medicine on ASU's campus: 
I would like to talk to you about [family member] — [family member] is very interested in NYIT — but frankly, we’d need some sort of help to make that a reality. Perhaps we can find a way to be mutually helpful.
The two then corresponded over the following months about a plan to provide tuition discounts to dependents of employees of the two institutions. 

In April of 2016, Hudson wrote Rev. Kevin Wildes, president of Loyola University New Orleans: 
I have to be somewhat conscious of costs. Loyola has offered … [family member] a scholarship. … However, if there is any additional assistance that you or others might provide, I believe that would confirm … [family member]’s decision.

I know you must deal with these matters every day (I know I do) and I apologize for putting another case on your desk. ... Any additional financial consideration at this juncture would be appreciated. 

Meanwhile, if I can ever be of assistance to you or anyone associated with Loyola, I hope you will do me the honor of calling on me....
A followup email from Loyola officials mentions a "revised award letter." 

Also in April of 2016,  Hudson similarly made an effort to sweeten a financial-aid deal, writing to the President of the University of South Alabama: 

[M]other and I have to be somewhat conscious of costs. A number of private schools, including Loyola in New Orleans and couple [sic] in New York, have made [family member] generous and attractive offers ... If there is anything that you or others might be able to provide at this point, I believe it would confirm ... [family member]'s decision to attend South...

I know you must deal with these matters every day (I know I do) ... so I do apologize for putting another case on your desk . ... 

Meanwhile, if I can ever be of assistance to you  or anyone associated with South Alabama, I hope you will do me the honor of calling on me. 
In followup emails to another South Alabama official, Hudson attempts to haggle for additional "help" for his family member, citing strong offers from "the competition." 

The potential trouble for Hudson is Arkansas Code § 21-8-304, Prohibited Activities: 

No public servant shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself or herself or his or her spouse, child, parents, or other persons standing to the first degree of relationship ... 
The emails sure seem to carry the appearance of someone using his official position to try to secure sweetheart financial aid deals for his family member. 

Via Arkansas Business, here is the second part of the audit, and a memorandum sent yesterday by Assistant Vice Chancellor for Administration Jo LunBeck to ASU System President Charles Welch regarding "potential noncompliance with State of Arkansas Law," which details the email correspondences summarized above. 

The audit also documents potential ethical problems regarding the relationship between Tim and Deidre Hudson and Alfonse and Pablo Rubio, who were involved in ASU's study abroad program in Spain. The audit suggests that Hudson had connections with the vendor for the Spain program that he did not disclose, and emails appear to show that the Rubios provided a free place to stay for the Hudsons in Spain. The audit raises red flags about the failure by Hudson to properly disclose financial interests, failure to disclose a conflict of interest, improper securing of special privileges from a third-party vendor, and violations of ASU's nepotism policy. 

The previous audit released by ASU earlier in the week showed the study-abroad program, run by Hudson's wife as a part-time employee, in disarray. Hudson had wanted to hire her full-time, but ASU System President Charles Welch told him he could not hire his wife. In response, Tim Hudson asked the school provost to cancel the full-time job posting, to which 14 people had applied.

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