Getting caught with your hands in the cookie jar: Part III

University of Central Arkansas president Lu Hardin resigned last week following months of uproar after it was revealed he received a $300,000 bonus. The bonus was given to him after a secret vote by the university’s Board of Trustees.

As a public university, UCA is limited by state law as to the maximum amount they can pay their president and this bonus attempted to get around this $202,160 restriction.

The university is allowed to pay employees more than the state maximum provided the funds are from non-public sources.

The state definition of what constitutes public funds is wide-ranging and includes most ancillary operations. This wide-ranging definition limits the universities ability to divert money from students to pay the fat cats of the ivory tower. (Isn’t it refreshing to see a government making sure funding for students actually goes to students – this is unheard of in Canada.)

When the secret $300,000 dollar payout was revealed, the state government launched an investigation and Hardin immediately paid back the money minus taxes. After concluding its investigation, the state ruled that payout was an illegal use of public funds.

Hardin may have survived the scandal had the public not learned of a memo sent to the Board of Trustees prior to the bonus pay vote. The memo told the trustees that the pay measure could be decided in a secret vote. The memo was supposedly written by three UCA vice-presidents. During the investigation, it was revealed that Hardin had written the memo himself.

Hardin’s resignation is effective September 16, 2008. As part of his resignation, Hardin will receive a buyout of approximately $700,000.

Not a bad deal for a man “resigning” in disgrace.