The Richmond Register

Local News

June 20, 2012

EKU Arts Center board moving past Hoskins’ departure

Richmond

RICHMOND —

With announcement of former executive director’s Debra Hoskins’ resignation Tuesday morning, the Community Operations Board of Eastern Kentucky University’s Center for the Arts appointed a committee Tuesday afternoon to seek her successor.

Hoskins also submitted a letter of resignation to the board.

Although the board’s newly elected chair Harry Moberly acknowledged that issues regarding the center’s governance remain, especially who is entitled to hire, supervise and dismiss employees, members of the 13-member board Tuesday afternoon seemed intent on moving forward instead of engaging in recriminations.

Moberly, the former state representative largely responsible for securing state funding for the $32 million center, said its partners “now need to come together” so the center can have a second successful season.

Six members of the community operations board represent EKU, while four represent the county, two represent Richmond and one represents Berea.

“It’s time for us to move ahead and find an executive director,” Moberly said, adding that an interim director may need to be hired first. Whether an interim director would be allowed to apply for the permanent decision would be a board decision, he said.

“We need an interim director as soon as possible,” Moberly said. “Our goal is not to miss a beat.”

He then appointed board member Jan Tunnell, a county representative, to head the director’s search panel on which six others will serve.

The committee includes three EKU representatives, Jill Price, Cheryl Stone and Mark Whitt; another from the county, Judge/Executive Kent Clark; and one each from Richmond and Berea, David Fernadez and Berea City Council member Diane Kerby.

The other three EKU representatives on the board are Dr. Richard Crosby, Keith Johnson and Barry Poynter. The county’s other two representatives are Kathy Eidson and Moberly. Richmond also is represented by Ginny Rollins.

Johnson joined the board for the first time Tuesday, replacing Dr. Bob Rogow, dean of EKU’s College of Business and Technology, who resigned last week after the board voted to resist the university’s move to dismiss Hoskins. Rogow, whose term as chair was set to expire this week, had about 18 months remaining on his board membership.

At a June 14 meeting, Rogow, then the board chair, informed the members that Hoskins was no longer employed by the university. A letter from Whitlock to Rogow and attached to the meeting’s minutes asked him to inform the board that Hoskins had ceased to be the center’s executive director on June 12.

Whitlock, who said he would have informed the board in person if not for a long-planned vacation abroad, asked the board to recommend an interim executive director for his consideration as soon as possible and to begin a nationwide search for someone to fill the post permanently.

According to the meeting minutes:

Rogow told the board it would not need to hear more from the university or from Hoskins regarding her employment because it was a personnel matter being handled through the university’s normal procedures.

The meeting’s purpose, instead, was to “move forward to ensure the success of the 2012-13 season,” he said.

Moberly disagreed, citing legislation he had authored a memorandum of understanding between the board and the university that gives the board “complete authority” over center personnel.

Center employees answer only to the board under state law, Moberly said, even if the memorandum cedes some authority in hiring to the university.

Not one of the center’s four partners — EKU and the three local governments — could take unilateral action against a center employee, he said. Because the board had not approved any change in Hoskins’ status, Moberly said he considered her still the center’s executive director.

He then moved that the board enter into executive session to consider “a personnel matter.”

Rogow said he would resign from the board if Moberly’s motion was approved. When it was passed, he left the meeting and submitted his resignation.

After the closed session, Fernandez, the board’s vice chair, distributed a resolution for consideration. Moberly read the motion, which included language from the 2012-14 state budget which states the center’s board “shall make all decisions regarding personnel ....”

The resolution also challenged the university’s move “to terminate Hoskins’ employment.” Hayward “Skip” Daughtery, Whitlock’s executive assistant, and Gary Barksdale, EKU’s human resources chief, had delivered a letter to Hoskins on June 12 information her of her termination and “commanding her to vacate her office,” according to the resolution.

Crosby said he would like to hear the university’s side of the personnel issue. The state law seemed “out of date,” he said, because it appeared to refer to the center while it was being organized.

Poynter said the board “does not have any employees,” and it should not be discussing personnel matters. He also said the legislation Moberly cited was “not well written.”

The board then voted 8-3 in favor of the motion that asserted the board’s authority over personnel decisions. Crosby, Poynter and Whitt were the dissenters.

Clark then moved to have Daughtery no longer be the center executive director’s supervisor, with the board overseeing the position until it could meet with Whitlock.

That motion also passed 8-3.

The board then adjourned.

The announcement of Hoskins’ resignation came in a news release from EKU spokesman Marc Whitt.

Moberly said Tuesday the university did not give the board any reason for Hoskins’ termination.

The resignation announcement from the university included this statement from Hoskins:

“As I move forward, I must express that I am immensely proud of what my team and I were able to accomplish during the center’s inaugural season.”

She listed several of the big-name acts that performed during the $30 million center’s first season, noting that attendance numbered more than 50,000 and generated more than $2 million in revenue.

Bill Robinson can be reached at brobinson@richmondregister.com

or at 624-6690.

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