The past few years at UCA have been tough. Money and personnel are only two of the issues faced as recently as within the last year. However, the administration has learned from its mistakes and the mistakes of past presidents.
Since former President Lu Hardin left UCA in 2008, UCA has gone through several scandals and has worked its way out of a mountain of debt. When former President Allen Meadors left in September 2011 amid another scandal, it was easy to believe UCA was in a cycle of corruption it could not break.
However, despite some hiccups along the way, the past few years at UCA have been relatively successful for UCA’s administration and board of trustees. This semester has been a good one for UCA’s improvements in communication.
Last week, The Echo reported that former Athletic Ticket Manager Steve Schoenhut took credit card information from several customers to get back at his former workplace. The credit card information was not used for criminal means, but the board’s response to the matter was to fix it, not to cover it up. This shows progress in UCA’s upper echelon
Where once there might have been a scandal or a coverup, there are now solutions. A new system that does not allow employees to see credit card information was introduced a year ago to prevent further breaches from happening.
Credit card safety is not the only way the university is improving. The university has also improved at public venues.
At the Feb. 13 Campus Talk, President Tom Courtway addressed concerns from the UCA community directly and honestly. When asked about Executive Assistant to the President Gilbert Baker’s political fundraising, Courtway said Baker was allowed to do whatever he wanted politically while not at work. Courtway was also open about giving money to Sen. Mark Pryor’s campaign and brought up the topic himself.
Whether he gave this information as a way to deflect criticism or out of a civic duty to be honest with the UCA community, Courtway’s honesty is appreciated and important to UCA’s reputation.
Courtway’s engaging attitude at Campus Talks is a world away from his predecessor. When Meadors was president, his administrative policies were much less concerned with having a dialogue with the community. His unwillingness to be open and transparent ended up causing the scandal with Aramark that led to his resignation and ultimately criminal charges being filed against him.
Courtway seems to understand that when you break news early, whether good or bad, it shows you are concerned with being open and honest.
He and the board should continue to engage in open and honest discussion with the UCA community. This will help prevent the administration from being perceived as reverting to previous habits.