by Max Brantley
John Brummett takes a crack today at analyzing fast-moving events at the University of Central Arkansas, which rid itself of another problem president yesterday by buying out Allen Meadors' contract. Brummett makes no excuses for the mess engendered by Meadors' initial coverup of terms of a deal by which campus food service vendor Aramark was to provide the money to get the presidential living compound the president's wife desired in return for an Aramark contract extension. But he evinces a little sympathy, too.
I do think it's worth noting that — however much faculty and others hated Meadors' (or was it his wife's) obsession with campus beautification projects and presidential perks — he appeared to be en route to cleaning up campus books after the disarray of the Lu Hardin years. Bond ratings had improved. Cash reserves were rising. And some drop in enrollment was less about Meadors than it was still about cleaning up the practices (think concurrent enrollment of high school students) by which Hardin juiced enrollment numbers in questionable and financially unsupportable ways.
To the UCA Board: If there is to be a true search for a successor, it would perhaps be best to begin by not taking an application after the deadline from a candidate favored by insiders and then hiring that insider pick despite a low rating by the faculty. It kind of sets a tone. Dr. Carl Johnson's model for a presidential search at the University of Arkansas might be a place to look for ideas.