Arkansas Business: The Best & Worst News of 2012

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 12:00 am  

Clockwise from top left: Mr. Dunderbak's makes its return to McCain Mall, Arkansas Children's Hospital makes grand plans, Gus Malzahn returns to Auburn from a one-year stint at Arkansas State, Jon Brawner thought it was wild goose season and Oxford American makes some changes in its masthead.

Pryor’s press secretary Lisa Ackerman first called Francis’ news release a “hoax.” Later, she described it as “fraud.”

It turned out to be a mistake. The pornography peddler apparently bought in a charity auction an internship that no one had the right to sell.

Pryor’s office hires interns for five-week summer internships. Intern candidates must apply, submit a writing sample, transcript, recommendation letters and background information, according to Pryor’s office.

“Our office does not sell, auction or donate internships,” Ackerman said.

Worst Academic Soap Opera

In 2011, it was the University of Central Arkansas’ past presidents Lu Hardin and Allen Meadors who drew public scrutiny. This year, it was the Southern literary magazine published on campus and the Conway university’s chief of staff.

The board of directors of The Oxford American magazine, published in a nonprofit partnership with UCA since 2004, fired Marc Smirnoff, the publication’s founder and managing editor, in July after an internal investigation related to sexual harassment allegations. Smirnoff responded to his firing by spewing written and verbal vitriol in media interviews and on a website in desperate need of editing,

As if UCA needed more drama, the university’s chief of staff, Jack Gillean, was charged with four felony offenses in October. The charges were related to a campus master key Gillean allegedly shared with a UCA student, who used the key to break into offices and steal exams and prescription medications.

Worst Fundraising Appeal

Ousted Oxford American editors Marc Smirnoff and Carol Ann Fitzgerald, the duo behind, use the website to tell at length what they call “Our Story of Losing The Oxford American.”

Until recently, they also used the website to ask for donations with the following appeal: “We don’t have a lot of money so if there’s anyone who would like to contribute to our next venture (or to our reflection period!), we are open to that.” Fitzgerald and Smirnoff generously provided a PayPal link for donors’ convenience.

Worst Show of Support



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