Favorite

UA's corporate culture 

You'd think that the University of Arkansas was a privately held family corporation. The Fayetteville campus is secretive, defensive and unfriendly to those who think the UA has broader responsibilities.

See: John Diamond. He was the associate vice chancellor of university relations. He was fired by the new vice chancellor for advancement, Chris Wyrick.

Diamond said he fell out of favor because he supported transparency, particularly in answering questions about the multi-million-dollar budget shortfall in the advancement division under the former leadership of Brad Choate.

Wyrick said Diamond had become insubordinate, not a team player. Team playing apparently means shutting up about the busted budget. Chancellor David Gearhart had grown weary of inquiries about the matter from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He wanted Diamond to put a sock in it. Diamond thought it was bad public relations policy to go mute on press inquiries (particularly when the questions came from the state's largest news medium). Gearhart should have followed that advice in his ill-considered op-ed personal blast at the newspaper.

Wyrick came from the UA Athletic Department. Secrets are a matter of official policy there. The department is heavily funded by contributions to the tax-exempt Razorback Foundation in the form of mandatory charges on game tickets. The coordination between public and private agencies should mean Foundation matters are open to the public. They are not.

The university has a similar relationship with the separate foundation that raises money for general university purposes. And, it figures in the Diamond affair. Gearhart once was the university's chief fund-raiser. Tradition was that the advancement division spent what was necessary to raise money and any additional expenses were covered by the private foundation. Sometime last year, the foundation stopped providing blanket overdraft protection for Brad Choate's division.

A legislative audit to be released next week might provide some insight on the policy change. One account is that the foundation's own auditors said the foundation could no longer just write blank checks in support of operations. The audit may also get into the details of the onset of problems. Coincidentally, trouble began when a fund to pay deferred compensation to Chancellor Gearhart came up short. As money was transferred among accounts to keep bill collectors happy, was the payment to the chancellor near the top of the list of IOUs cleared?

Chris Wyrick is entitled to his own team, as Gearhart has said. He and Diamond might have proved an odd couple. But the UA hierarchy's effort to demonize the mild-mannered Diamond as an irrational madman isn't well-supported by evidence. Wyrick, a big and boisterous ex-jock, is more intimidating. He's so sure of himself that he made silly racial and religious references about staff members, including Diamond, a Catholic, without a thought about how they might be received.

Wyrick showed himself, too, when the Bobby Petrino scandal broke and he was a top hand in the Athletic Department. After Petrino was forced to admit he'd lied about his initial account of a motorcycle wreck, Wyrick texted the coach with promises of support and a helpful PR strategy. Wyrick insists those texts came before all was known about Petrino's influence on hiring a girlfriend. He said he supported Athletic Director Jeff Long in Petrino's firing and insists he praised Diamond for crisis PR management, including crafting the widely praised speech by Long defending the firing.

Some think Diamond's role in the Petrino matter was the beginning of his problem. There, too, he favored transparency. Particularly in athletics, it is not a trait for which UA has been known. The university resists FOI requests, it keeps secret about finances and, now, it has fired a high official who found secrecy a poor policy. And they want the public to think Diamond is the bad guy.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Explosion in England; more Trump revelations

    Breaking news: a deadly explosion in Manchester, England. Also, more incendiary reporting from Washington on Donald Trump's poor political behavior.
    • May 22, 2017
  • Waiting to die. An account from Death Row

    Ibby Caputo, who contributed to our coverage of the legislature this year, has written an article for Slate about Morgan Holladay's experience as a spiritual helper to Jack Jones, one of four men executed in Arkansas last month.
    • May 22, 2017
  • Trump's budget could hit Arkansas hard

    If Donald Trump succeeds in cutting "entitlements" by $1.7 trillion, the impact will be felt particularly in poor states. In other words, Arkansas.
    • May 22, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015
  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016

Most Shared

  • Trump unfit

    Even as an oligarch, President Trump turns out to be breathtakingly incompetent. Is there any reason to suppose he's even loyal to the United States? Does he even understand the concept? Trump is loyal to Trump, and to his absurdly swollen ego. Nothing and nobody else.
  • You want tort reform? Try this.

    The nursing home industry and the chamber of commerce finally defeated the trial lawyers in the 2017 legislature. The Republican-dominated body approved a constitutional amendment for voters in 2018 that they'll depict as close to motherhood in goodness.
  • Goodbye, Mr. Trump

    It is hard to escape the feeling that the fortunes of President Trump and the country took a decisive, and for Trump a fatal, turn May 9-10, when the president fired the director of the FBI over its investigation of Russian efforts to swing the presidential election to him and the very next day shared top-secret intelligence with Russian officials in an Oval Office meeting closed except to a Kremlin press aide toting electronic gear to capture the intimate session for Russians but not Americans.
  • Raw feelings in the Arkansas Justice Building over workload, pay

    Strained relations between the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Arkansas Court of Appeals broke into public view this week. I expect more to come.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • You want tort reform? Try this.

    The nursing home industry and the chamber of commerce finally defeated the trial lawyers in the 2017 legislature. The Republican-dominated body approved a constitutional amendment for voters in 2018 that they'll depict as close to motherhood in goodness.
    • May 18, 2017
  • French Hill's photo op

    The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed a health care bill that only the blind, dumb or dishonest could call good for any but the wealthy. For its many flaws, it has been hailed as a ticket to congressional gains for the Democratic Party.
    • May 11, 2017
  • For the kids

    Early voting is underway for the special election May 9 on extension of 12.4 property tax mills dedicated to debt of the Little Rock School District.
    • May 4, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

New Entrance and North Forest to debut with Chihuly exhibit opening at Crystal Bridges

New Entrance and North Forest to debut with Chihuly exhibit opening at Crystal Bridges

Dual Chihuly exhibit opening also brings culmination of year-plus forest project

Event Calendar

« »

May

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Trump unfit

    • Well, Al - I'll give it to you - I can't find, again, that phrase…

    • on May 22, 2017
  • Re: Trump unfit

    • Well, not only does Al do the Projection shuffle, he also does the Strawman two…

    • on May 22, 2017
  • Re: Trump unfit

    • Al, you're a little late to the party, and have arrived with dated info. The…

    • on May 22, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation