RICHMOND — Eastern Kentucky University Center for the Arts officials will move forward with the search for a new executive director after Wednesday afternoon's resolution of a dispute over whether the university or the center's Community Operations Board would supervise that position.
The argument over the memorandum of understanding between the university and the board goes back to the departure of the previous executive director in June.
Then, EKU officials moved to fire executive director Debra Hoskins, but the board objected, saying the memorandum gave that power only to the board. Hoskins resigned a week after the firing attempt and is now director of the Grand Theatre in Lancaster.
Wednesday afternoon's meeting of the EKU Center's Community Operations Board was held specifically to resolve the dispute.
The center, which opened in September 2011, was conceived as a cooperative effort among EKU, Madison County and the cities of Richmond and Berea. The board was created with representatives of all three entities.
A key point in the dispute was language in the newly proposed memorandum from the university that said, "For purposes of university administrative processes, procedures, and accountability standards, the executive director shall report to the president or president's designee ... "
Community appointees Kent Clark and board chairman Harry Moberly said that language gave too much oversight power to the university.
Moberly contended that Skip Daugherty, who is a member of the board and special assistant to EKU president Doug Whitlock, acts as supervisor of acting executive director Jill Price. Daugherty said he is simply helping because he has a background in programming.
It was the latest of numerous tense exchanges between Moberly and Daugherty at board meetings. Fifty-five minutes into Wednesday's meeting, it appeared the issue was irresolvable, and Moberly proposed passing a resolution so the center could get on with the search. Community representative Ginny Rollins and others objected, saying the resolution would leave the questions unanswered and that resolving the memorandum of understanding question was key to moving forward.
The search for a new director has been on hold as search committee chairwoman Jan Tunnell and others said they could not start soliciting applications until they could tell prospective directors who they would report to.
Daugherty asked for a five-minute break, and when he returned, he proposed an amendment to the memorandum that he said the university would agree to. It removed the language about the president or president's designee so the paragraph in question reads, "The executive director shall report to the board and shall have the following assigned duties." The duties include "compliance with university accountability standards and the regulations, policies and procedures of the university."
Daugherty said the university was willing to let the language go because "we cannot let this go on another six months. ... University guidelines and policies can be adhered to within the parameters of the board, and (we) trust that everybody will act in good faith."