The Richmond Register

September 21, 2012

EKU Center Board, university nearing agreement

By Bill Robinson
Register Editor

RICHMOND — The EKU Center Community Operations Board is nearing agreement with university President Doug Whitlock on sharing responsibility for the center’s executive director.

At the board’s monthly meeting Wednesday, its chair, Harry Moberly, presented Whitlock’s response to his proposal for a new memorandum of understanding between the board and the university.

Whitlock had agreed to most of the proposal, but had requested a few additions, which were contained in copies distributed to board members and media representatives.

If adopted, the center’s executive director could be hired or dismissed only upon agreement of both the board and the university. If both parties do not agree, a proposed candidate for executive director could not be hired, Moberly said.

Without agreement of both parties, an executive director also could not be dismissed, if the memorandum becomes effective.

That has been the main point of contention between the board and the university since the June departure of Debra Hoskins, the center’s former executive director.

Although the university eventually released a statement  with Hoskins announcing she had resigned, minutes of the board’s June meeting indicated the board was told she was no longer employed.

The board voted to affirm its control over center employees and resist Hoskins’ termination, but the joint announcement of her resignation came a few days later.

On Wednesday, only a few unresolved issued appeared to remain. They included whether personnel information that is protected by law could be released to the board and whether board members had sufficient liability insurance to protect them if a dismissed executive director filed suit for wrongful-termination or other issues.

Moberly said a director should be required to agree for the board to have access to personnel information before being hired. And, an evaluation of their liability exposure will be presented to board members at their next meeting. Increased liability coverage would mean a mean a higher premium, some members noted.

Board member Jan Tunnell, who chairs the search committee for a permanent executive director, said the panel had decided on a job description for the position but could not proceed with its search until the management issue was settled. Moberly agreed.

Jill Price, the university’s director of conferencing and events, has been serving as interim executive director.

Board member Richard Crosby asked if “having to work for a two-headed monster (the university and the board)” would deter some good candidates from applying to be executive director.

As long as the relationship was clarified, Moberly said he believed joint management could work as it does for other venues that are partnerships.

When asked how ticket sales are running compared to last year, board member Robert Rogow, dean of the university’s college of business and technology, said there was not enough data for a comparison.

The center’s $840,000  is far outpacing expenses by $616,000, Price said. However, a comparison of revenue and expenses to this point in the previous year also could not be made, Daughtery said, because the two year’s schedules are different.

On Thursday, Price said about 1,000 attended the center’s first event of the season, a Sept. 11 performance by the Cincinnati Pops. That number included members of the county’s high school bands, she said. Management had not expected to fill the 2,100 seats for the concert, Price said.

More than 800 tickets had been sold for tonight’s Al Green concert, Daughtery said late Thursday.

About half the tickets for Vince Gill’s Oct. 18 performance have been sold and about 1,100 tickets have been taken for the Oct. 27 Tony Bennett concert.

An advertising blitz is to begin next week for the Gill and Bennett concerts, both Price and Daughtery said.

Given the season was not announced until early August and major advertising for next month’s big shows had not begun, Daughtery said tickets sales were going about as well as could expected.

Bill Robinson can be reached at brobinson@richmondregister.com or at 624-6690.