State Senator Gets UA Job After Pryor Staffer Beats Him Out For Vice Chancellor

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Key (left) and Massanelli

State Sen. Johnny Key on Wednesday (May 7) was named associate vice president for university relations for the University of Arkansas System, a few days after missing out on a vice chancellor job to a staffer for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

Key, R-Mountain Home, was a finalist for the job of UA vice chancellor for governmental relations at the Fayetteville campus, a position that instead went to Randy Massanelli, state director for Pryor. Massanelli will be paid $175,000 annually, while Key will be paid $130,000 a year, according university officials.

The finalists met separately with Chancellor G. David Gearhart and other vice chancellors and school officials before a decision was made to select Massanelli, according to a statement released by the university. The other finalist for the position that eventually went to Massanelli was Mac Campbell, who served as an aide to then-U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.

Thirty-three people applied for the vice chancellor job, which was narrowed down by a nine-member search committee that included school officials, CEO Jerry Adams of Arkansas Research Alliance and former state Sen. Steve Higginbothom, according to the university’s statement.

Massanelli replaces Richard Hudson, who is retiring July 31, according to a university news release.

Hudson was hired at the university in 1994 and has worked under three chancellors, the news release states.

Hudson was paid $202,000 in the lobbying position, according to Mark Rushing, the university’s director of strategic communications.

Key is filling a position that has been unoccupied for a while, said Ben Beaumont, director of communications for the 18-campus UA System. Beaumont did not immediately know how long the post has been unoccupied. He said any suggestion that Key was given the UA System job as a consolation for not getting Hudson’s job is untrue.

In his job, Key will assist Melissa Rust, vice president for university relations, who served on the search committee that ultimately named Massanelli to replace Hudson.

Key will begin working for the UA System when his state Senate term expires in January, Beaumont said.

By law, Key is not allowed to register as a state lobbyist for one year after he leaves the Senate, but he can lobby in an unregistered capacity as an employee of the UA System, according to a news release from the system.



  • Tom Sambo

    Is it any surprise a liberal was picked by liberals over a conservative? Of course if isn’t, but the propaganda thugs of KFSM want to rub it in. One day, you libtards will get yours. One day.

  • Independent thinker

    Do you have inside knowledge that he was picked on his political affiliation rather than based on merit??? If not, then shut your hole.

    Could it be that conservatives want to cut funding of public institutions of learning? The proof is in the votes of the state legislature. Its of public record. Neverthelessless the winning candidate was selected from a committee, rather than “hand picked by one person”.

    Regarding KFSM reporting on news stories, such as this one, I’d have to say kudos. The position is a employee position of this fine state and I like hearing about where our taxpayer dollars are going.

    From an independent standpoint, republican nut jobs, like yourself, hurt this state just as bad as the bleeding heart democrats.

    • Bob Gnarly

      Having read many of Tom’s comments I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s either a really brilliant independent thinker spoofing an ultra conservative idiot (Ala Steven Cobert) or he’s actually sincere (which would be sad).
      In either case, he’s always good for a chuckle or two.

      thanks, Tom!

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