Chancellor Speaks Out After Spokesman’s Firing, $3.3 Million Shortfall

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University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart discussed Thursday the firing of a school spokesman and says the university does not violate the law in how it responds to public records requests.

Spokesman John Diamond said in a letter to his bosses last month that he believed the UA created unjustifiable delays in responding to freedom of information act requests from the media.

Gearhart said in an interview Thursday that the university does not violate that open records law.

“There is no evidence that we have ever done anything against the freedom of information law, and would never do it,” Gearhart told 5NEWS.

Reporters in recent months submitted those freedom of information requests when looking into the loss of $3.3 million in the university’s advancement division. Gearhart said he’s awaiting a state audit next week on the loss.

Gearhart also noted, “It was not a university deficit. It was in a division of the university, and we ended the fiscal year with a $50 million dollar reserve.”

The chancellor said he doubts the audit will reveal there was any wrongdoing associated with the loss.

“It’s a matter of overspending their budget. That’s not a good thing, and that’s not acceptable to overspend your budget. But we still believe very strongly that that’s the issue”, Gearhart said.

Gearhart continued, “I think what’s important is that we move to correct it, put in place controls that will keep it from happening again, and that is what we hope that the audit will help us to do.”

Diamond was given 30 days notice upon being fired and is working from home for the university, until the end of September.