Another day, another report from the D-G’s Debra Hale-Shelton on unusual financial practices at the University of Central Arkansas during the tenure of President Lu Hardin. Here the curiosity is failure to fully report discretionary scholarship spending.
How I wish the faculty members on hand to hear Sen. Gilbert Baker promise fiscal soundness had asked Baker if the secret list of discretionary scholarship recipients included his son, who received deluxe discretionary housing from President Hardin. Or whether he intended to again use university staff and equipment in the future for campaign activities.
But there’s a much larger issue than Baker’s complicity in the old-boy system that ran UCA off the rails.
I suspect it should become apparent in the 2009-10 school year. Once corrective practices are in place, what will the real shakeout be at UCA? If discretionary scholarships are trimmed; when other scholarships are trimmed to meet the state cap; if the concurrent enrollment of high school students used to swell UCA numbers is reduced; if students are not allowed to continue to enrollwhen they don’t pay bills — what then will be the shape of UCA? If all this produces a significant drop in enrollment, that will have a related impact on the school’s state support. The full picture of UCA’s financial future remains cloudy in the short run, seems to me.