UPDATE: Andrew Linn will request an opinion from the Arkansas Attorney General about whether the university — his former employer — can release his personnel file under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, according to an email released by the University of Central Arkansas on Wednesday afternoon.
In an email Tuesday, UCA's Associate General Counsel Katie Henry wrote: "The university has determined that the records are not exempt from disclosure."
UCA has not answered questions about whether more employees could be fired, but spokeswoman Fredricka Sharkey sent documents showing ony one other employee, an Institutional Services assistant, has been fired this year.
Linn started working for UCA in 2009. He earned a salary of $40,900, according to the most recent budget at UCA.
A University of Central Arkansas employee who became wrapped up in an investigation into break-ins that led to the arrest of the former chief of staff and to an internal audit that spotlighted flawed policies and possible favoritism at UCA was fired Monday night, UCA records show.
Andrew Linn, the assistant director and scholarship coordinator at UCA, was fired after refusing to resign, according to documents from the university.
Emails between President Tom Courtway and Linn do not say why Linn was fired, but Linn is a central figure in a case involving break-ins on campus, stolen exams and missing prescription pills at the university. He is also mentioned in an internal audit that details a lack of policy, oversight and communication at the university leading up to the resignation of then Chief of Staff Jack Gillean.
On Tuesday, the university sent an email saying Linn’s personnel file, which the Log Cabin Democrat requested under the Freedom of Information Act, will be released unless Linn seeks an Attorney General’s opinion within three days.
Linn said via a text message Tuesday he had no further comment on his firing. He confirmed he has sought legal advice.
“As stated in my email (to Courtway,) I have consulted an attorney, but prefer not to comment on any future plans at this time,” Linn wrote via text.
Courtway would not explain whether more employees could lose jobs. Spokeswoman Fredricka Sharkey said Tuesday evening she did not receive a response from UCA officials on the question of whether more people will be fired.
“I’m not going to comment on any personnel matters,” Courtway said Tuesday.
UCA released a handful of emails Tuesday between officials concerning Linn. Sharkey said the emails — none of which revealed why Linn was pressured to resign and then fired — are all that are available for January.
At 2:34 p.m. Monday, Linn’s supervisor Cheryl Lyons, Financial Aid director, wrote in email to Robert Parrent, vice-president for enrollment management, and Julia Winden Fey, adjunct professor and associate vice-president of enrollment management, that UCA’s Associate General Counsel Katie Henry asked Lyons to move forward with documents for Linn’s exit paperwork.
“We will need to discuss where we go from here both short term and long term,” Lyons wrote.
Linn’s name has come up repeatedly as information about break-ins at UCA has surfaced.
Linn filed a police report this past June 11 saying prescription pills had been stolen from his desk. He also identified Cameron Stark, a former student worker at the President’s Office, in a video linked to the break-ins.
Stark later admitted to stealing exams from buildings and said he used keys Gillean gave him. Stark is the lead witness in the case against Gillean, who was arrested for four felonies, including commercial burglary, and a misdemeanor in October.
In the audit, which has been turned over to prosecutors, auditors looked at a wide-range of issues on campus, from malfunctioned surveillance cameras to staff approving a scholarship worth thousands of dollars without proper documentation, between spring 2011 and spring 2012. Because of the audit’s findings, the Financial Aid Office changed its policy so that an acquaintance and friends of a student cannot approve increasing money for a student to use for unexpected costs. The move was a response to Linn approving money to cover repairing a stolen and damaged car for Stark, who was his “acquaintance,” in fiscal 2009-2010, he said previously. The audit showed supporting documents were missing, including the police report filed when the car was stolen in March 2010.
Linn later submitted the police report to auditors, but Internal Audit discovered inconsistencies that appear to show Stark bought wheels to repair the vehicle before it was stolen and damaged.
“(I)t appears that the sales order was processed before the car was reported stolen,” auditors wrote in response to management. “It should also be noted that the student did not have his car recovered on the date Mr. Linn in Financial Aid was inputting a COA adjustment for an unexpected expense of repairing a stolen car. The student would have no way of knowing the condition of his recovered vehicle when it was still being towed on March 15, 2010, and the police had not had contact with the owner.”
Lyons told the Audit Committee in December that Linn was working off memory on an event that happened two years ago when auditors interviewed him. That was why the dates of he gave auditors and the dates on sales tickets do not match, she said.
The adjustment was made based on Linn’s professional judgment, Lyons said last month. In the audit, auditors wrote Linn told them he did not get a police report for Stark’s file because he “personally knew that this student’s car was stolen and did not drive properly after being recovered.”
Linn has said repeatedly he and Stark were not close.
Documentation supported the student’s request, Parrent wrote in his response to the audit.
UCA put in a policy to have more employees review scholarship renewal appeals, staff are to be trained on the importance of getting documentation and the Conflict of Interest Policy will be re-written to prevent staff from handing applications of friends, according to Parrent’s response to the audit.
Officials said after the audit meeting last month that no employees had been reprimanded because of the audit.
At 7:01 p.m. Monday, Courtway wrote to Linn: “Effective immediately, and as an at-will employee, you are terminated from your position as assistant director of Scholarships in the Office of Financial Aid, as provided for in the UCA Staff Handbook, including the reasons we discussed this morning in my office.”
Linn had written in an email to Courtway earlier that day that he had decided not to resign because he had violated “no federal, state, institutional or office policies.”
“I have always worked tirelessly and diligently for both current and future UCA students,” Linn wrote. “I am disappointed with the way in which events have unfolded and managed over the last several months. However, I will always be a proud alum of the University of Central Arkansas.”