UCA President Tom Courtway to Step Down, Return to Teaching

University of Central Arkansas President Tom Courtway is looking to step down before the end of his current contract and return to teaching in the UCA College of Business, university officials said Friday.

The UCA Board of Trustees voted to amend his contract to reflect his decision at Friday's regular board meeting. Courtway's contract ends June 30, 2017, but Courtway would resign earlier if a replacement is found before then.

"We will begin discussing the process of a presidential search in the spring," said Brad Lacy, chair of the UCA board of trustees. "We respect his decision and appreciate his years of service to the university. We are grateful that he has agreed to continue serving as president during this process."

The announcement was made to the campus community with a letter from Courtway.

"My appointment was made after the UCA Faculty Senate approved a resolution asking the board to trustees to remove the interim title for a period of not to exceed three years," Courtway wrote. "The resolution was adopted in October 2011. We are now approaching 2016.

"It is time to begin the search for a new leader of UCA," he wrote.

Courtway has led UCA through tough times. The university's former general counsel, he served two stints as interim president after his predecessors left under clouds of controversy.

He first took over the office from September 2008 to June 2009 after Lu Hardin resigned amid questions about a deferred compensation payment Hardin worked to receive early. His next stint came from Sept. 2, 2011, through Dec. 16, 2011, after the departure of Allen Meadors, who left his post after questions arose about a deal with food vendor Aramark

Courtway moved to Conway with his family in 1961 as a third-grader. His parents are UCA graduates, and his father worked for years in athletics at Hendrix College, the Conway school that became Courtway's alma mater.

He originally joined UCA as general counsel in 2002, but he left in late 2003 to serve as interim director of the Arkansas Department of Education until May 2004, when he returned to his position at UCA. In December 2005, Courtway became vice president of Hendrix College, where he remained until August 2006 when he returned to UCA as vice president and general counsel. He is a former state legislator.

For fiscal 2015, Courtway received a total compensation package of $316,122, including a $240,000 base salary.

According to the resolution approved by the board, upon the expiration of his contract term or the beginning of employment for a new president, Courtway will be granted a six-month sabbatical at his then-current rate of pay. Upon the expiration of the sabbatical period, Courtway will have a two-year contract to teach in the college of business at a nine-month salary of $120,000 per year.