Last week we posted the initial results
of an FOI request to the UCA Foundation asking for more specific information on how President Lu Hardin
spends his discretionary fund
, a fund that was budgeted for $57,000 in 2008-2009 but that has been richer than that
over the past few years. Now the Foundation has followed up with a more complete accounting of how the money is used.
The most interesting spending to emerge: a whole lot of gifts to board members and other people Hardin probably wants to keep on his good side. There have also been several donations from the fund to political players with a questionable relationship to the University. Check after the jump for a more detailed list, but for starters, there's a generous birthday present for everyone on the UCA Board, gifts to Sen. Gilbert Baker, and $660 worth of holiday hams for Board members.
Hardin spent $6,250 on gifts in 2006-2007 and $5,914 in 2007-2008. He spent $4,923 on flowers in 2006-2007 and $4,651 in 2007-2008. According to UCA records, most of the gifts and flowers come with a greeting from Lu and Mary Hardin rather than UCA in general.
These expenditures are not, it appears, illegal: the money to pay for them is privately donated to the Foundation, and donors give specifically to the president's discretionary fund. Presumably these donors have a rough idea of how their dollars are spent. But the gifts do suggest how a University president's personal largesse can extend the influence of his institution and help cultivate his own persona.
According to Robin Nix, the new head of the UCA Foundation, about $40,000 of the $57,000 currently budgeted for the discretionary fund is provided by one individual. There only four or five donors to the fund overall. Nix also said it was his understanding that in the years the fund exceeds $57,000, the person who donates the majority of the money to the discretionary fund cuts another check to cover the larger part of the difference. Nix declined to name the donors to the fund.
Some officials at UCA have questioned why most other Arkansas universities showed a zero in the expense account column in the Higher Ed Department's recentDownload file
"> presidential compensation survey. Good question. We asked University of Arkansas at Fayetteville how the school's chancellor pays for trips and other expenses. According to information provided by Steve Voorhies, the University's manager of media relations, John White spent $900 on four trips from January to April of this year. Each trip appears to be related to athletics. We're following up to see what sort of funds the UA president has to purchase gifts.
In the meantime, the list after the jump offers a partial account of how President Hardin spent his discretionary fund. Most numbers are from fiscal year 2006-2007.
-Birthday gift for Board member Randy Sims from the Kitchen Store: $79.35
-Holiday hams for Board members: $661.31
-Reynolds Center tickets to Ballet Folklorico de Mexico for Board member Scott Roussel: $100.
-Plant for Sen. Gilbert Baker in sympathy of the death of his father-in-law: $82.22
-UCA jacket for son of Board member Randy Sims: $51.94
-Gift basket for Board member Michael Stanton's birthday: $81.01
-Birthday cake for Board member Rush Harding III: $21.19
-Gift basket for Board member Rush Harding III's birthday: $101.04
-Gourmet food basket for then-Mike Huckabee chief-of-staff Brenda Turner's birthday: $95.61
-Gift basket for Board member Kay Hinkle's birthday: $107.84
-Gourmet food for Board member Scott Roussel's birthday: $80
-Basket for Board member Patricia Bassett's birthday: $90.92
-Wedding gift for Katie Hinkle, UCA associate general counsel and daughter of Board member Kay Hinkle: $80.
-Get-well gift for Sen Jim Argue: $782007-2008
-Favors for Gilbert Baker/John Brummett luncheon: $56.20
-Birthday gift for Board member Scott Roussel: $174.01
Note: Hardin gave many more gifts than are listed here. UCA Vice-Presidents Jack Gillean, Barbara Anderson, Paul McClendon and UCA counsel Tom Courtway all received gifts of a value within the price range of those above.