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John Diamond, a former University of Arkansas spokesman who in 2013 told lawmakers about a "culture of secrecy" at the university, won national honors Thursday for work in Maine to improve relations between higher education institutions and state government.

The Marvin D. "Swede" Johnson Achievement Award recognizes Diamond for work done in the 1990s and 2000s, according to a University of Maine statement. Diamond since 2015 has led the school's alumni association, and he previously worked as the university's director of public affairs and the University of Maine System's executive director of external affairs.

Four organizations, including the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, sponsor the award given to Diamond in Atlanta at the Higher Education Government Relations Conference.

"Under John's tutelage, the university's advocacy program reinvigorated the institution in the eyes of the Maine Legislature and all of Maine -- a reputation it continues to enjoy today to the benefit of the entire state," U.S. Sen. Angus King Jr., I-Maine, wrote as part of Diamond's nomination, according to the university.

Diamond joined UA in 2010 and was fired in 2013. He became a central figure in a dispute over comments made by then-UA Chancellor David Gearhart about budget documents after the discovery of overspending within the university's main fundraising division.

A month after he was fired, Diamond said under oath to state lawmakers Gearhart told other school officials to "get rid of" budget documents handed out at a meeting. Diamond also described "a culture of secrecy that developed and grew" at UA.

Gearhart, who retired in 2015, denied ordering the destruction of documents. Audits uncovered no criminal activity related to a $4.19 million deficit over a two-year period that ended June 30, 2012, and a prosecutor's review found no cause for action under state perjury laws.

Other sponsors of the award are the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

NW News on 12/08/2018

Print Headline: Fired at UA, Maine man wins award for outreach

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