UPDATED: Lu Hardin to Leave UCA on Sept. 16

by Amy Riggin  on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008 4:53 pm  

UCA President Lu Hardin is leaving the university effective Sept. 16.

Board Chairman Randy Sims was vocal about his support of Hardin.

"It goes without saying that we are all saddened by this," Sims said. "Over the last few days I have done everything I could think of to talk him out of this. I can't vouch for the rest of my board members, but I think - and I know - that we could have stood together and weathered the storm. This is probably the best thing for Lu Hardin, but when we look back it will not be, in my personal opinion, the best thing for the University of Central Arkansas."

Trustee Rush Harding III voiced his support for Courtway as Hardin's interim replacement.

"I would hope that this would be our first step in re-establishing a remnant of trust with the faculty, staff and the student body and I pledge as a board member, and the board does as well, to work toward re-establishing that credibility and that trust," Harding said. "And I'm sorry for the fissure in that trust that has been created by these incidents."

In a statement, Gov. Mike Beebe said Hardin's move was the right one.

"Lu Hardin has been a hard-working public servant for 25 years, but I agree that his decision to resign is the right one for him and for the University of Central Arkansas. UCA is an exceptional institution, and I'm confident that its leaders will move quickly to refocus their energies on the mission of education," Beebe said. "Lu is, and will remain, my good friend, and he and his family are in Ginger's and my thoughts and prayers."

Voting publicly Thursday, the board approved by a 5-1 vote a contract buyout that includes $670,162 to be paid to Hardin with public funds from the trustees' discretionary fund, plus an additional $47,570 to be paid by the UCA Foundation. Trustee Michael Stanton voted against the buyout.

Hardin has a five-year contract that annually rolls over and adds another year. His base salary is $253,000 a year, but a recent salary review by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education put his total annual compensation at $508,540.

Hardin will step down on Sept. 16, his six-year anniversary at the university, technically taking a sabbatical until the end of the fiscal year. On July 1, 2009, the $670,162 balance will remain on the public portion of Hardin's contract.

That money will be paid to Hardin from the trustees' discretionary fund, either in a lump sum or over a 39-month term, as determined by Courtway as interim president.

(Click here to read more about the board of trustees' compensation to Hardin.)

Hardin told board members Thursday that he hoped to get back into education in some capacity after his recovery.



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