Arkansas Administrator Keeping Title, Salary
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A University of Arkansas administrator will retain his title and salary as he takes on new duties, though controversy about the job change has not died down.
When the university moved toward making Assistant Vice Chancellor Lonnie Williams director of the school’s Multicultural Center, an Arkansas Court of Appeals judge and other Black alumni complained, arguing that the change was a demotion.
Appeals Court Judge Wendell Griffen, who has both a law degree and a bachelor’s degree from the flagship campus, announced in a letter to the university that he was withdrawing his support of the school. Griffen says Williams was being treated in a “shameful and treacherous way.”
“The title and the salary have been restored,” Williams says. “However, some other issues that I was trying to get resolved were not resolved to my satisfaction.”
Williams would not specify what remained unresolved.
Black alumni voiced their objections to Williams receiving what they called a demotion.
A portion of Williams’ $66,000 vice chancellor’s salary is supplemented by a federal program grant, which would not apply to the position at the Multicultural Center, and he faced a possible pay cut.
Dr. Johnetta Cross Brazzell, vice chancellor for student affairs, explains that the decision to move Williams to the Multicultural Center is part of a restructuring in the Office of Student Affairs. She says the move was not intended as a demotion but was meant to use Williams’ skills to build up the center.
“The whole point of the reconfiguration of his responsibilities was to take advantage of what I believe to be his strengths,” Brazzell says. “[The Multicultural Center] has never had a director. It’s never had someone to really give it purpose (or) the sense of direction it needs.”
The center opened in 1996 as a resource and support center for minority students.
Brazzell says Williams’ title and salary had been restored before the news of Williams’ move broke.
In a June 15 statement to Black alumni, Dr. John A. White, university chancellor, sought to clarify Williams’ role.
“Specifically, Dr. Brazzell recommended that instead of reporting to an associate vice chancellor, Lonnie report directly to her,” White’s statement says. “As assistant vice chancellor, he will continue to administer the scholarships available within the division. However, he will also direct the Multicultural Center and expand multicultural affairs within the [university].”
Griffen says he is not satisfied.
“Lonnie Williams has been the person who basically helped Black alumni put to rest … some very real and painful injuries that we’d experienced,” Griffen says. “I’m still trying to figure it out. I understand that restructurings happen in every organization. This situation basically reopens a host of wounds.”
In his time at the university, Williams has led an effort that has greatly increased the number of Black alumni who return to the university.
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com