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Dr. Les Wyatt receives approval to go on unpaid leave
Nov 18, 2010
Dr. Les Wyatt, president emeritus and tenured professor of art and higher education at Arkansas State University, has requested an unpaid leave of absence from his faculty appointment until such time in the future when he can devote full time to the job.
                He cited a desire to ". . . avoid jeopardizing the relationship between ASU and Academic Partnerships," a company which has assisted the university with marketing its online education programs.  Wyatt has been a strong proponent of online education opportunity through ASU.
      "Even though a member of the faculty (as I would be) has no authority for contractual and financial decisions made by the administration," Wyatt wrote, "I hope that I will put an end to speculation about my motives and make clear that I am standing for the university's best interests."
      Dr. Dan Howard, interim chancellor, received Dr. Wyatt's request and approved it today in a memo.
      "Please allow me to express my heartfelt appreciation to you for the many contributions you have made to our university and the opportunities that you have brought to ASU through Higher Education Holdings, its affiliated entities, and from other organizations," Dr. Howard said in a memo to Dr. Wyatt, granting the request.  "However, I understand fully the reasons for and your desire to seek an unpaid leave of absence from the university (effective January 1, 2011), in association with your duties and obligations as a tenured full professor of higher education and art."
      Questions regarding Dr. Wyatt's employment arrangement began circulating on campus in late October after he was listed on the American University System website as a company executive while still receiving compensated leave as a faculty member.  He has declared in employment documents that there is no conflict of interest, and university counsel concurred.
      Dr. Wyatt also pointed out in his letter of request to Dr. Howard that many university employees, both faculty and staff, also are employed elsewhere, sometimes with companies with which the university does business, so his situation is not different from other current practices.
      He also emphasized that he previously has reported to Chancellor Howard about his activities, including clear declarations of his association with Academic Partnerships and American University System.
      "I was forthright before I left the presidency that I would be working with online education because I think it is critical for the next generation of learners," Dr. Wyatt wrote in his letter of request.  "My current university assignment gives me specific allowance to be engaged with development of online education."
      He also cited the university's success with online education, noting that more than 2,000 students have enrolled in online degree programs and the university has netted more than $500,000 through programs that are "organized and delivered" by ASU faculty and marketed by Academic Partnerships (previously known as Higher Education Holdings).
      Wyatt announced in May that he would resign as ASU System president effective June 30, but would continue his association with the university as a tenured professor under the terms of his contract, with time allowed to prepare to return to the classroom.
      Howard said he approved the request because it was very reasonable under the circumstances.  The only conditions associated with the leave are that Dr. Wyatt provides reasonable advance notice to the chancellor as to when he plans to terminate the leave and return to full-time faculty status, and he will be expected to cover the family coverage portion of his medical insurance for his family, which is normal under leave policy.
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