Gillean Trial Teachable Moment for Courtway, Campus Administrators

Former UCA Chief of Staff Jack Gillean was convicted of six commercial burglary charges March 12, which earned him a three-year stint in prison. Hopefully UCA will finally be able to put this dark period behind it and move forward.

Gillean’s trial was held in Clinton and the jury took less than two hours to hand down a guilty verdict. The quickness of the verdict shows the jury didn’t have much trouble deciding the verdict.

UCA has had several administrators in the past who have committed and been convicted of crimes. Former UCA President Lu Hardin, who arguably did more damage to the university and received a far lighter sentence, is the most prominent example of administration gone wrong at UCA.

However, with current leadership and a promising direction for the future, UCA should be able to move on without the trial having too much impact on its reputation.

Gillean’s fall from grace is sad, but he mostly only hurt himself with his bad decisions. He allowed a student to steal tests with his master key, but the crimes were just a selfish act by a student who saw a way to take advantage of his situation. Even the insurance fraud, while a terrible decision, caused no pain to anyone but himself.

Administration at UCA should find solace in the fact that the only thing they have to deal with as a result of the trial is publicity. When Hardin left the university, he left it nearly bankrupt and with a crisis of leadership.

UCA has since been put on stable ground and what problems it does have are far less reaching than a financial crisis.

Gillean’s crimes and conviction can be used as a cautionary tale for everyone in the UCA community. Before his long string of bad decisions, he was by all accounts a stable, productive member of UCA administration who showed no obvious signs of his problem behaviors.

Even a person as unlikely as Gillean can begin a long string of bad decisions he finds it impossible to stop committing. Maybe if he had stopped his reckless behavior sooner, he wouldn’t have been sentenced to three years in prison.

It is unlikely he will spend all three years in prison, as he will be eligible for parole after six months. Hopefully his short stay in prison will teach him a late-in-life lesson that even the most respected, powerful and well-paid people can quickly fall from grace and become criminals.

Another lesson UCA administration can take to heart is being open and honest with media, including campus media. Pretending Gillean never existed is not good for UCA’s reputation.

Allowing media to get an understanding of how the university plans to move forward from the trial is a better approach.

Hopefully, the UCA administration will learn from Gillean’s trial and move forward with a renewed sense of the importance of openness and honesty for the university.

Future success depends on the entire administration understanding the importance of communication to preempt problems with the university’s reputation and state of affairs.

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