A-State: Hudson focus of second internal audit when he resigned

A-State: Hudson focus of second internal audit when he resigned
Dr. Charles Welch (Source: Arkansas State University)
Dr. Charles Welch (Source: Arkansas State University)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas State University confirmed Thursday that former Chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson was the focus of a second internal audit at the time of his resignation.

The documents, which were released following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Region 8 News, "noted occurrences of potential noncompliance with a State of Arkansas law."

The audit stated Hudson "appeared to use his position to secure financial assistance for a family member" who was unnamed.

The document, dated August 3, indicated Hudson sent an email with the family member's resume attached to a partner of Arkansas State University-Jonesboro, saying '[family member is very interested in NYIT—but frankly, we'd need some sort of help to make that a reality. Perhaps we can find a way to be mutually helpful."

The audit stated Hudson did not follow university policies regarding nepotism, conflict of interest, and prohibited activities. It also stated he failed to "include gifts and nongovernmental sources of payment related to a trip to Spain" in a statement of interest filed for the years 2012 and 2014.

Hudson resigned as chancellor of A-State on Wednesday following an internal audit of the university's study abroad program which was overseen by his wife, Dr. Deidra "Dee Dee" Hudson.

Arkansas State University President Dr. Chuck Welch said, "Our internal audit process functioned properly. We received those anonymous complaints on our hotline that we have set up and immediately initiated those reviews. One of the things I was very, very cognizant of…is because these reviews involved senior administrators on one of our campuses, that I did not want there to be any appearance that I was trying to interject myself into this inappropriately in any way. I asked the internal audit to conduct an independent review, independent of me, and to just present to me the facts when they completed that and we acted accordingly."

Dr. Welch told Region 8 News in an exclusive phone interview that he and the board of trustees were, "clearly disappointed,' in the findings.

"We were not aware of the vast majority of these things that are listed in there until those were uncovered by the internal audit," Welch said. "We are going to take the steps and have taken certain steps to ensure these types of things don't occur again, to try to strengthen our controls, strengthen our processes to make sure we've got stronger checks and balances in place."

If there is any good news in this, Welch said it was the acknowledgment that "the system worked."

He said Hudson's sudden departure did not put the university's current projects at risk.

"I spoke with Tim O'Reilly, our partner in the hotel and convention center project…and his words to me were yesterday that he is full-steam ahead," Welch said. "I spoke with our partners in Mexico at length yesterday. They also agree that nothing changes in terms of our partnership and our relationship.

The president stressed, "This institution, these projects, the things that we do are larger than one individual."

Knowing that students might have concerns, he assured them that there are processes in place to "appropriately deal" with these types of situations.

He also commended those who stepped forward and alerted the university to their concerns.

"If there is good news in this, it is that the system worked in terms of the way our employees were able to report things they suspected and the way the review was able to be conducted and certainly how we were able to handle it at the conclusion of that review," Welch said.

Region 8 News will have more of Dr. Welch's comments at 5, 6 and 10.

Here are the full documents released by Arkansas State University:

Region 8 News will have more information as details emerge. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for up to the minute updates.

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