LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — UA System trustee Kelly Eichler has yet to recuse herself ahead of Monday’s board vote after it was revealed that a company her husband works for could make millions from the University of Phoenix affiliation deal.
Eichler’s husband, Brad Eichler, is the COO of Stephens Inc., a financial services firm in Little Rock that has been contracted to help with the deal.
The contract shows that Stephens would be paid $25,000 upon acquisition and at least $1.65 million once the deal is complete.
Kelly Eichler has been vocally supportive of the affiliation, saying in a meeting on Wednesday that “Online education is here to stay, and we’re going to have to get into this realm.”
Eichler also referred to the deal as a “lifeline” for the university system.
The trustee has not publicly indicated at this point that she will recuse herself or abstain from a vote on Monday that could potentially put the deal in motion.
Eichler did not respond to a request for comment.
UA System Board of Trustees policy suggests that this is a conflict of interest.
“A conflict of interest exists when a trustee has the opportunity to influence University actions, decisions, or contracting in ways that could lead to improper personal or family gain or give improper advantage to the trustee or others,” Board Policy 100.9 states.
The policy goes on to specify that “A trustee shall also be deemed to have an indirect interest in a transaction if any member of his or her immediate family is a party to the transaction, has a material interest in another entity which is a party to the transaction, or is a manager, director, officer or trustee of another entity which is a party to the transaction.”
A footnote denotes that spouses are included in the term “immediate family.” Board policy requires that a trustee must always abstain if a conflict of interest is present.
The board will meet via Zoom on Monday to vote on the proposed agreement.