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Roussel resigns from UCA's Board of Trustees

Posted: May 6, 2012 - 5:07pm

Scott Roussel offered his resignation Sunday from his post as a trustee at the University of Central Arkansas.

Roussel, a businessman from Searcy, was appointed to the board in 2008 for a second term by Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe.

In his resignation letter to the governor, Roussel said he believes it to be in the university's best interest that he resign.

"When I became a trustee, one of the first things I learned is that you always put the university first. It is for this reason I am offering my resignation effective immediately," he wrote. "UCA is a great university and it is time the public focused on the school's good attributes."

Roussel said by phone that his resignation is not an admission of guilt in any association with the Aramark and UCA case in the hands of the district prosecuting attorney, but he "feels it is best for UCA and for me to step down, so that they can move on."

On Roussel's account, Beebe did not ask him to step down when the two men spoke about his status on Monday of last week.

"(Beebe) called me and asked how I was doing and in our conversation he asked me if I've thought about resigning. I told him that my wife and I had already talked about this a couple of months ago. We said we were ready to move on, it was just a question of when," he said.

Roussel said he had made up his mind to leave his post "regardless of the prosecutor's findings."

Roussel admits he is a part of the Arkansas State Police investigation into a possible mishandling of a "grant" proposed by Aramark food vendor that was set before trustees last year.

A $700,000 proposal to further renovations of the UCA president's residence was presented without strings attached by Roussel, who was acting as chair of the board at the time.

The home on Donaghey near UCA's campus has seen many renovations, and more were in store while the house was to be occupied by former president Allen Meadors and his wife, Barbara.

Meadors resigned when trustees learned that Aramark's offer was contingent upon a seven-year contractual agreement in which Aramark would be UCA's sole food service provider.

Roussel said his involvement was in question when he was interviewed by state police for about two hours at the beginning of this year. He said he has been advised against speaking about the details of his interview or his role in the case.

Thus, he said, he has been unable to defend himself against "fabrications or rumors."

"It has been really frustrating to not be able to defend myself. That is another reason I'm stepping down. I am to the point where I can't speak about what the true facts are. This is what's best, and the main reason is that I need to do what's best for UCA."

Roussel said he "looks forward to being able to speak openly about the facts and about what happened, so there's a clear picture of what took place and why."

He has said and reiterated that wrongdoing on his part in the way the Aramark contract was presented and the grant voted upon was unintentional.

"It could have been handled differently, but it wasn't. Yes, you can learn from that, but there was no intent to hide or do anything wrong, period," he said.

Twentieth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland said Sunday that his office is still reviewing the UCA-Aramark file to determine if criminal charges are appropriate. 

Two to three weeks, he said, is the timeline for any possible charges to be filed at the state level. 

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ARBEAR
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ARBEAR 05/06/12 - 05:52 pm
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Well it's about time.

Well it's about time.

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