By Bill Robinson
A little more than a month after Eastern Kentucky University introduced Debra Hoskins as executive director of its Center for the Arts on Jan. 31, 2011, her former employer, Centre College informed her and EKU that it had evidence she had improperly obtained confidential records from its Norton Center for the Arts.
Hoskins was employed by the Norton Center for more than 20 years before joining EKU.
The information included customer and advertiser lists that were obtained by a Norton employee, Angie Young, sent to her personal email and then forwarded to Hoskins’ personal email, according to a letter from Centre President John Roush to Hoskins and EKU President Doug Whitlock.
Although Hoskins’ attorney in a letter to both college presidents disputed Centre’s contention the records were confidential, Whitlock informed Roush that EKU would not use the information and had deleted it from its databases.
Whitlock also reminded Hoskins of EKU’s code of conduct and that her compliance with it was expected.
The letters were among 284 pages from Hoskins’ personnel file that EKU released at 5:41 p.m. Thursday.
The records release came after EKU, Hoskins and the Lexington Herald-Leader reached an agreement in a suit filed by the newspaper over the university’s refusal to release records it and the Richmond Register had requested under the state open-records law.
Among the records was a March 23, 2011, “Final (Last Chance) Warning” advising Hoskins of “Unsatisfactory Work Performance/Behaviors” in connection with obtaining of the Norton records.
Also released was a 20-page summary of an internal audit of the EKU Center’s finances for fiscal year 2011-12 that included a long list of what it cited as improper practice and recommended corrective actions.
It cited an aggregate overpayment of $46,622 to production companies for 26 shows staged at the center that year out of a total of nearly $1.25 million.
However, underpayment to some production companies totaled nearly $33,000.
The audit also found a difference of $104,731 between the center’s two different revenue recording systems. The higher amount was nearly $1.9 million.
Among notes in the audit are claims that Hoskins:
• Included falsified invoices to calculate and to support settlement payments to production companies
• For the Mannheim Steamroller concert, solicited a freelance technical director to submit an inflated invoice, $2,545 or 43 percent higher than the original invoice, but authorized EKU to pay the lower amount while including the higher amount in the production company’s settlement calculations and overcharged it $762 for tech labor
• Overcharged the Beauty and the Beast production company by $3,168 by billing it for student labor at $18 an hour while paying $9 an hour
• Distributed nearly 6,900 complimentary tickets valued at nearly $390,000. Of those, 3,125, valued at more than $180,000 were not assigned to a patron account, and the center had no record of to whom they were given. The percentage of seating capacity used for comp tickets ranged from 2 percent for Jerry Seinfeld to 28 percent for the Munich Symphony. The audit noted that comp tickets could be considered as taxable fringe benefits.
• One member of the community operations board received complimentary season tickets although state law stipulates that members are to serve without compensation.
• Overpaid a personal service contractor by $1,263
The audit also criticized Hoskins personnel management, including claims that she had:
• Offered employment to an individual 41 days before the position was posted
• Entertained some applicants with meals during interviews but not others.
In a June 19 news release, EKU announced that Hoskins had resigned, although minutes of the arts center’s community operations board indicated that days earlier the university had moved to dismiss her, escorted her from her office and removed her name from the center’s website.
The records include a copy of the six-page termination agreement she and Whitlock signed June 19.
The agreement included non-disclosure obligations by both Hoskins and EKU, but a Kentucky attorney general’s ruling held the agreement did not supersede the state’s open-records law.
After the ruling, the university announced it would release the records but later declined at the request of Hoskins’ attorney, and the Lexington newspaper took the matter to Madison Circuit Court.
Portions of records were redacted as agreed to by EKU, Hoskins and the Lexington paper, along with some standard redactions, including phone, credit card and Social Security numbers.
The release also stated that the open-records suit continues in circuit court.
Bill Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 624-6690.