JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - At the annual Faculty Conference at Arkansas State University, all eyes and ears were focused on stage as the faculty was briefed about what has happened in the past several weeks.
As Region 8 News reported, Dr. Tim Hudson, former chancellor at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, resigned in early August after an internal audit revealed policies had been violated.
Dr. Charles Welch, president of the Arkansas State University System, spoke to faculty Wednesday.
When he began his speech, he made it clear he knew what had to be discussed this year.
"The truth is our internal audit worked flawlessly," Dr. Welch said.
Dr. Welch explained they received their first tip in March on the hotline they created in 2012.
"The purpose of this is to allow you or any other member of the university community or the community at large to have a way of expressing concerns, pointing out things you think aren't quite above board," Dr. Welch said.
The hotline did just that, causing the start of an internal audit.
Dr. Welch assured faculty the internal audit was done by employees who have very high integrity standards.
Following the first tip, the first internal audit was submitted to Dr. Welch in July, the second internal audit was submitted on July 27, and Dr. Hudson resigned on Aug. 2.
Dr. Welch went into detail about what the audit found, particularly the projects Dr. Hudson was directly involved in.
"The truth is our auditors never found any missing money," Dr. Welch said. "The truth is we have continued to find no missing money."
Welch told the faculty that the Mexico campus is being funding by an outside foundation and investment.
"Operations will be paid for by that foundation through the tuition and fee revenues they collect," Dr. Welch said. "We will select the faculty. We will have the say so over the curriculum."
Arkansas State University has hired a United States law firm that is licensed in Mexico to help overlook any further contracts or negotiations with the A-State Mexico campus.
Dr. Welch also briefly said there is no tuition exchange program with the New York Institute of Technology, and a new director is being hired for the study abroad program.
He also assured that students who attended a study abroad program and want to will have access to invoices for what their money goes to.
What Dr. Welch described as one of the most important things to take away is he refuses to have an environment of fear. "It's not a culture I want, a culture I promote, certainly not a culture I'll allow in my own office," he said.
There will be no reprimand for those employees that come forward about things not going right, Dr. Welch stated.
He feels one of the most unfortunate parts of the past several months is that people interviewed for the audits did not remain anonymous as they thought they would.
"I apologize to those of you who had your information put out there publicly, but I want you to know that I appreciate you," Dr. Welch said.
He ended his speech with a discussion of what he plans for the future including hiring a long-term interim chancellor who is not within the Arkansas State University System to serve this academic year.
"Want someone who can help with a healing and preparation process for the future," Dr. Welch said.
They will begin a search for a permanent chancellor in the spring.
Other goals Dr. Welch mentioned is opening up communication system wide and continuing to improve the higher education system.
David Kern teaches Finance and Banking for A-State and said with all of the changes going on in the past month, he wants to focus on what matters most and move forward.
"We'll stay positive, you know we are here for the students, to encourage the students and try to provide a great educational experience for them," Kern said.
The program continued after Dr. Welch's comments with Dr. Lynita Cooksey, acting chancellor, leading the discussion for the upcoming academic year.
Classes begin at Arkansas State University on Monday, Aug. 22.
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