Tom Courtway accepted the title of president of the University of Central Arkansas Friday on the recommendation of Trustee Bobby Reynolds.
Courtway, the school’s general counsel, had been serving a second time as interim president since Sept. 2, when former president Allen Meadors resigned amid accusations that he did not disclose to trustees the nature of a vendor’s contribution that would fund improvements to the house where he resided.
Courtway stepped in as president a first time in 2008, when past president Lu Hardin resigned as investigations began into a memo that privately approved a $300,000 bonus to himself.
By several accounts, Courtway has been a favorable candidate for the job, though he has been publicly reluctant about being president on a permanent basis.
Reynolds said at the close of Friday’s meeting that trustees agreed to a "deal" where Courtway would commit to being president at UCA for at least three years, though he did not want a contract, severance or other allowances.
Reynolds announced that under the agreement Courtway would not receive a car allowance or privately funded salary pay. He will continue to make his current salary, $162,577, assigned to him as general counsel until the trustees meet again in May.
Reynolds said that at that time, Courtway’s salary will be adjusted to his new position.
Courtway asked trustees that he be allowed to move into the university-owned president’s home at a later date.
Reynolds said before the meeting closed that he felt Courtway’s appointment would restore much needed stability to the university, which has been criticized at the administration level since investigations began into Hardin’s actions as president.
Dr. Janet Wilson, faculty senate president, said Friday that she was very happy that the Board of Trustees "responded to what we asked for." "I can speak for the faculty senate and we are thrilled. He’s going to be an excellent president for us in this time period," Wilson said.
Upon acceptance, Courtway said that he appreciated the confidence of the Board of Trustees, the faculty and staff senates, and the support of the student government association.
"I realize from this day forward, I lose friends. That’s the nature of the job," Courtway said. "I’m honored and humbled, and let’s get to work."
Reynolds said that the three year cushion will allow the university ample time to conduct a thorough search for a new president, and if a good candidate is found, "...Tom will be more than happy to step down."
Other changes in university leadership made Friday will put Bobby Reynolds, formerly vice-chairman, as chairman of the Board. Trustee Victor Green will now serve as vice-chair, and Trustee Kay Hinkle, secretary.
Reynolds, a businessman from Searcy, was appointed to the Board in 2009.
As chairman, he said in a university release, he would like to see more participation in board meetings by student, faculty and staff organizations.
Reynolds said he will address challenges "by being open and honest in all matters related to UCA."
He also noted the need to restore stability to the campus.
"The events of the last several years have no doubt harmed our reputation and the students, faculty and staff do not deserve this," he said. "After all, UCA would not exist if not for the students. Tom Courtway will provide stability. He has the utmost integrity and honesty and will represent UCA wonderfully."
More changes upcoming for the Board of Trustees include the appointment to be assigned by Governor Mike Beebe in January to replace Dr. Harold Chakales’ seat.
Chakales, whose term was to expire in 2014, died Tuesday.
Trustee Randy Sims’ term is to expire in January. He will either be reappointed by the governor, or another candidate will fill his position.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail 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)