University of Central Arkansas Faculty Senate members are calling for a trustee’s resignation.
The group voted Thursday on a resolution requesting Scott Roussel, a real estate business man of Searcy appointed to the board for a second term in 2008 by Gov. Mike Beebe, to leave his post.
The action follows the board’s approval of a new deal with Aramark, one that would "wipe clean" $6.7 million in unamoritized funds and interest.
Roussel voted to approve the contract along with other trustees as it was presented, though governing groups on campus said they believed the trustee should recuse.
Thursday’s resolution states that Roussel "was cognizant of the conditions described by Aramark in the acceptance of $700,000 in return for a seven-year, no bid contract for food services on the UCA campus..."
It further explains that Roussel "would or should have been aware" of potential damage to the university’s reputation when he announced the large "gift" from the university’s food vendor, and did not disclose, by his account without purpose, that the pledge was contingent upon the renewal of the company’s contract.
The money would have furthered renovations under way at the UCA president’s home that was occupied by former president Allen Meadors, who resigned last September after trustees learned of the stipulation.
UCA conducted its own interviews shortly after the discovery, but then turned the investigation into possible improprieties by university staff over to Arkansas State Police.
State police gave a "lengthy" case file to Twentieth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland earlier this month.
Hiland said Friday that his office is still reviewing the file to determine if a criminal act has been committed.
"This file is fairly substantial and it’s going to take a little while to review that and come to a decision," he said.
Kevin Browne, incoming Faculty Senate president, introduced Thursday’s resolution.
"I think the resolution speaks for itself," Browne said. "I made the motion to take it off the table."
The resolution was authored and tabled in September, he said.
"There’s not a single answer to why it was tabled, but there was an investigation at that time and senators voted to table it. Some people wanted to let that investigation take its course without any action from us."
The faculty’s recommendation will go to UCA President Tom Courtway next week.
Roussel said Friday he did not recuse from board action to approve Aramark’s new contract because he "saw no conflict."
"When someone recuses themselves, they do so because they have a financial interest or a conflict. I had not talked to Aramark and I was not a part of negotiations so I couldn’t find a reason to recuse myself, especially since everyone on campus agreed that this was a good contract for us. That’s why I supported it," he said.
Roussel said he believes the contract presented was "a good contract," one that "had the blessings from everyone on campus who had a voice."
He added that his inclusion in the vote was not to "offend or disrespect anyone’s opinion."
"I did it because it was something we should go through with. It was a vote in support of the administration’s findings."
Board of Trustees Chair Bobby Reynolds said Friday that it is the privilege of the Faculty Senate to "vote the way they want to vote."
"It’s just up to Mr. Roussel to decide what he thinks is best for himself and the university. He’ll give it a lot of thought and we’ll go from there," said Reynolds.
Beebe’s spokesman, Matt DeCample, said the governor is on vacation and plans to speak with Roussel early next week.
"That’s all I can tell you today," he said.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)