An agreement has been approved by Eastern and the EKU Center for the Arts Community Operations Board to better outline the management of executive director for the Center.

The referendum of understanding will require the executive director to report to the Community Operations Board, but the director would still follow the rules and processes set by the university.

“I think it was a compromise,” said Harry Moberly, chair of Community Operations Board. “The university was concerned about making sure a university employee would follow all rules and regulations if they report to the Board.”

The beginning of the agreement came about following previous executive director Debra Hoskins’ resignation from her position in July. Her decision to resign brought up several concerns regarding how the various partners of the EKU Center for the Arts should manage the executive director position.

“It’s always been envisioned that the operation of the Center would be a partnership between the Center and the university,” said Eastern President Doug Whitlock. “The governance of the Center has always been invested in the Community Operations Board. After the departure of Debra Hoskins, it was obvious the university and the Community Operations Board needed to come up with new guidelines.”

Whitlock said some confusion came from who had authority over the operation of the Center.

“I think if you look at what’s in the law, it’s clear the Community Operations Board has the statutory authority to run the Center,” Whitlock said. “But since the Center is attached to the university administratively, we thought there should be some reporting lines to the university individually.”

Moberly said the new agreement clearly states any hiring and firing must be a joint decision by Eastern and the Board. He said the current referendum was a combination of what the university and the Board had drafted and modified individually.

“The president took the one we had and modified it,” Moberly said. “It’s really a product of both the Board and the university. There were things in there that both parties agreed to.”

Moberly said the important aspect when drafting the agreement was to keep all of the partners involved and their concerns were covered.

“I think everybody’s interests are protected,” Moberly said. “I think all the university members and community members have faith that all the interests of the partners are protected.”

Jan Tunnell, chair of the search committee on the Community Operations Board, said she thinks the compromise will give all the partners of the Center a voice.

“I think it will benefit both the university community and all the other communities in this area in that everybody will have a voice in the functions of the art center,” Tunnell said. “It clarifies the search in that we can tell any prospective director that they report to the Community Operations Board. It’s a very clear process.”

Tunnell said it’s important to remember all of the partners involved in the running of the Center, not just the university.

“It’s not just another branch of the university,” Tunnell said. “It’s a community project with Berea, Richmond and Madison County and the funding came from the state.”

Whitlock said the agreement would be signed and made official by the university and the Board once a final copy has been drafted.

After the agreement is officially signed, Tunnell said the search for the new executive director of the Center would be able to move forward.

“We can move ahead with our third season,” Tunnell said. “It will be a national search, and we will look for the best qualified person for this wonderful center that we have here at Eastern and in Richmond.”

Though he’s glad to move forward with the director search, Whitlock said he doesn’t believe the referendum will directly influence the position.

“I don’t think it will have a significant impact on it,” Whitlock said. “It’s in everybody’s interest for the Center to be a success.”

Tunnell said the search committee is working on refining the job description and having it approved by the Board before setting a timeline.

This compromise, Moberly said, is a step in the right direction for the Center.

“I think I’m very pleased with the new agreement, and I think all parties acted in good faith,” Moberly said. “I think the future of the Center is particularly bright.”