Prosecutors review potential charges against former ASU chancellor; may face ethics violations

by George Jared (gjared@talkbusiness.net) 438 views 

Prosecutor Scott Ellington told Talk Business & Politics a probe into possible illegal activities by former Arkansas State University Chancellor Tim Hudson is not finished. Ellington’s office is examining Arkansas Legislative Audit findings, he said.

The Second Judicial District Prosecutor didn’t divulge what possible criminal charges, if any, could or would be leveled against Hudson who was forced to resign his office last August.

“We’re still pouring through it,” Ellington said. “I’m not going to set an artificial deadline. It’s an important case to us, but we have a lot of important cases we’re working on.”

Hudson could also be the subject of an Arkansas Ethics Commission probe. Hudson, who was hired by ASU in 2012, may have violated Arkansas ethics laws during his tenure.

ASU, under Hudson’s direction, hired a Spanish company to aid college students during study abroad trips to Lanjaron, Spain, a new internal audit reveals. The company, Multisense, was paid more than $250,000 from ASU during the last three years for these services. Multisense is owned Grupo Sense, and Hudson served on the company’s board, according to documents obtained by Talk Business & Politics.

Hudson may have used his position and influence to try and persuade several colleges to give a relative better financial offers for graduate school, and he even hired the son of a friend, the CEO of Grupo Sense, for a high paying job in the chancellor’s office. Hudson may have also failed to disclose paid trips to Spain, and other perks.

Email correspondence and other information gathered show that Hudson used his office to hide much of the relationship with Multisense from others from within the ASU system, the audit states. Hudson also encouraged the creation of a permanent director’s job for the studies abroad program, a position he planned to give to his wife, Dr. Deidra (Dee Dee) Hudson. When he discovered his wife wasn’t eligible because they are related, he stopped the job from being filled even though 14 applicants had applied.

Attempts by Talk Business & Politics to reach Arkansas Ethics Commissioner Director Graham Sloan were unsuccessful. Graham has previously told Talk Business & Politics his agency is aware of the Hudson situation. AEC policies typically prohibit the release of any information regarding an investigation until a finding is reached. AEC often doesn’t even acknowledge if an ethics probe is ongoing.

Arkansas ethics laws require public paid supervisors to disclose any benefits or free gifts they may receive during their tenure. Hudson received at least two free trips to Spain he didn’t disclose on his ethics forms, according to the audit. He reportedly has paid back about $2,000 after he resigned.

ASU has three finalists for its chancellor’s position. Dr. Kelly Damphousse, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Dr. Ronald Elsenbaumer, interim provost and vice-president for academic affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington; and Dr. Alan Shao, dean of the School of Business at The College of Charleston in South Carolina were picked out of the 52 applicants who applied for the position.

The three candidates are slated to visit the campus and meet with administrators, faculty, students, and others during the first couple of weeks in May. ASU President Chuck Welch said he hopes to have a chancellor hired by the first of June.

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