The University of Arkansas announced late Friday (Aug. 23) that John Diamond, the associate vice chancellor of university relations, has been fired. His dismissal is another surprise in the university’s troubled advancement division.
A reason for Diamond’s sudden dismissal was not given, although the UA was willing to release documents explaining the move. UA Vice Chancellor for Advancement Chris Wyrick released this statement:
“Mr. John Diamond was terminated from employment with the University of Arkansas today, with 30 days notice.
“The reasons for his termination are contained in correspondence Mr. Diamond received from me today.
“The university informed Mr. Diamond that it believes the correspondence is subject to release under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. In response Mr. Diamond declined to allow release of the documents and wishes to seek an opinion from the Arkansas Attorney General.
“Accordingly, the University of Arkansas cannot release the document until an Attorney General’s opinion is rendered or until Mr. Diamond gives his permission to release the documents.”
Diamond provided this statement to the Arkansas Times:
"I learned of this action in a text message from Chris Wyrick at 11:28 this morning. I believe it's the result of strong philosophical and material differences over what it means to be a transparent and publicly accountable university. My wife and I love Northwest Arkansas and the U of A. We need some time to process this news before saying anything more. I hope you and others understand."
Diamond was hired by the university in September 2010. Prior to arriving in Northwest Arkansas, Diamond managed public relations and lobbying for the University of Maine system. Diamond, who earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in speech communications from the University of Maine, was elected in 1980 to the Maine House of Representatives. At age 30 was elected by his peers to be the House Majority Leader, and was at the time the youngest majority leader in the country.
While at the UA, Diamond worked with Jeff Long, UA vice chancellor and director of athletics, as the university responded to the Bobby Petrino scandal in early 2012. The UA earned top honors for “Best Crisis Management” in the PR Daily’s 2013 Nonprofit PR Awards because of how the university dealt with the investigation of the Petrino’s activities and his eventual dismissal. Kevin Trainor, associate athletic director for public relations, was also cited by the UA for his work with Long during the events.
The advancement division has been under review for a $3.3 million deficit. In December 2012, Brad Choate resigned as vice chancellor of the division and Joy Sharp resigned as budget director.
On Feb. 7, University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart asked auditors for the Arkansas General Assembly and the University of Arkansas System to perform independent audits of spending within the university’s advancement division.
Following the Feb. 7 announcement, Gearhart named Chris Wyrick the new vice chancellor for university advancement. At the time, Wyrick was serving as executive director of the Razorback Foundation. In mid-July, Wyrick announced several staff changes within the division.