by Max Brantley
Items of interest on the agenda included a proposed 2.08 percent tuition/fee increase that would, according to the UCA chart, put the school at $7,332 for TWO 15-hour semesters, about $11 less than UALR and $221 less than UAF. (PLEASE NOTE CORRECTION: I originally wrote that the amount was for a single semester.) The Board approved that increase.
Some interest attended a matter NOT on the agenda. That would be whether Trustee Scott Roussel will bow to the wishes of a faculty Senate resolution and resign his seat on the board. Roussel failed to tell the rest of the UCA community about the full details of a proposed loan from campus food service supplier Aramark to pay for presidential home improvements in return for a contract extension.
The hubbub eventually saw the departure of President Allen Meadors. Roussel has continued to vote on Aramark matters, to the official displeasure of faculty. There have been calls for Roussel's resignation. Gov. Mike Beebe, who hails from Searcy as Roussel does and who reappointed him to the UCA Board, had a private meeting with the trustee a few days ago, specifics not revealed. Might he have made a gentle suggestion that Roussel depart before his term expires? Not, of course, by way of admitting any error but by way of removing himself as a point of contention in the interest of continuing the rehabilitation of the school's image, tarnished beginning in the Lu Hardin era.
UPDATE: After participating in several hours of board discussions, Roussel departed for personal business without making any public statements about his service on the board. The board then met in executive session without him. Afterward, the board met in public and voted to increase President Tom Courtway's pay from $162,578 to $210,000. However, at his request, he'll continue to work without a contract, school-supplied car or other special benefit except the president's home.