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Arkansas State University Chancellor Tim Hudson Resigns

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Arkansas State University Chancellor Tim Hudson resigned Tuesday evening, effective immediately, and ASU System President Charles Welch has named Lynita Cooksey, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs and research, as acting chancellor.

Hudson emailed Welch a brief resignation letter Tuesday evening after the two met, according to Jeff Hankins, the ASU System’s vice president for strategic communications and economic development.

“Please accept this as my resignation from Arkansas State University,” Hudson wrote (PDF). “I wish the institution and everyone associated with A-State all success in the future.”

Hudson, who was appointed chancellor in 2012, also resigned as a professor of the College of Business at A-State.

“I have asked Dr. Lynita Cooksey to serve in a temporary role as acting chancellor,” Welch said in a news release Wednesday. “In the coming days I will develop plans for a long-term interim appointment.”

More: Read Hudson’s settlement agreement with the university (PDF).

The university did not cite a reason for the resignation. The university is not paying Hudson a severance, Hankins said.

The most recent amendment to Hudson’s employment contract with the university (PDF), which was effective March 1, put his annual salary at $360,000.

Audit Finds Problems

Hudson’s resignation comes days after the Jonesboro Sun, in stories here and here, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on an internal audit finding problems in A-State’s study abroad program, headed by Hudson’s wife, Deidra Hudson. (Arkansas Business this week editorialized about what appeared to be a conflict of interest at the university.) 

The audit found that overseas trips were poorly organized, some of the instructors abroad didn’t have contracts and students paid for trips using a PayPal account instead of a university account.

Deidra Hudson, hired May 1, 2013, to head the program part time, had resigned but the Democrat-Gazette reported July 28 that she was to remain on board until this summer’s programs are finished. Hudson had sought to make the position full time with an annual salary of $50,000, almost $13,000 more than was budgeted. Deidra Hudson applied for the full-time post, but ASU Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration Len Frey told Tim Hudson on Feb. 16 that university policy prohibited Hudson from hiring his wife as a full-time subordinate.

Welch later told Tim Hudson that his wife could remain employed as “extra help.” Tim Hudson then canceled the posting for a full-time director, though 14 people had already applied for the job.

In a news release, Welch thanked Hudson and his wife for their service.

“A-State experienced many significant milestones during his tenure, including the most academically talented freshman classes in university history, record numbers of graduating students, record annual fundraising totals, creation of a public-private partnership with New York Institute of Technology to bring an osteopathic medical school to the A-State campus, completion of multiple major capital projects, including the Humanities Building, and unprecedented institutional successes in intercollegiate athletics,” Welch said.

“Additionally, Dr. Hudson, his wife Dr. Dee Dee Hudson, and their entire family welcomed thousands of university supporters into the Chancellor’s Residence to showcase the many talented members of the university community. I appreciate Tim, Dee Dee, and their family for their many contributions to A-State, and I wish them well in their future endeavors.”

Cooksey became vice chancellor and provost in 2012 and held several other leadership roles after joining the faculty in 1993. She has also served as associate dean of the then-College of Arts and Sciences and taught for several years in the Department of Biological Sciences, where she also held chair and associate chair positions.

Before coming to Arkansas State, Hudson was vice chancellor of the Texas Tech University System. Before that, he was a special assistant to the chancellor for international programs and initiatives at the University of Houston System and president of the University of Houston-Victoria from 2004-2010.

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