by Max Brantley
The University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees is meeting today and discussion of President Lu Hardin's pay is front and center. Unlike past board meetings, media are out in force, along with faculty and others.
I'll have a report from John Williams before long. Items of business were expected to include repeal of a rule giving the Board chairman the ability to write checks without Board votes on an auxiliary account financed by book and restaurant sales. Trustee Rush Harding also told me he planned to propose that Board executive sessions be taped in the future so there'd be no dispute about what was said.
In recent days, there's been some disagreement about what transpired in May when the Board agreed in private to accelerate payment of a $300,000 deferred compensation bonus for Hardin, who makes about $252,000 a year. Some trustees believe the Board also indicated majority support then for developing a six-year contract for Hardin that would include a new $150,000 annual deferred comp payment that would be shielded from public disclosure. The $300,000 has been repaid and Hardin's new contract was put on hold after controversy arose over the Board's action. That May action was never announced publicly, but the action leaked out in a trickle of news coverage. The stories included news of an improperly financed 2007 bonus of $100,000 that was subsequently covered by Trustee Harding's financial contributon. The controversy has wounded Hardin (until then generally viewed as a key player in UCA's recent growth), roiled the faculty and spawned a torrent of critical newspaper commentary.