The executive director of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System told the system’s trustees Monday that he plans to retire by the end of this year.
George Hopkins, who has been the system’s director since December 2008, said he and board Chairman Jeff Stubblefield have been talking for many months about when Hopkins should depart.
“With a little bit of a family health issue going on and understanding where we are at, I think it is time to pass this torch to a new director … in a period where there [are] not major challenges ahead, and I planned to tell the board later but Mr. Stubblefield asked me to do it at this meeting,” Hopkins said. “My plan is to retire. I have been eligible for over six years. But I never could find the time where it worked for my duty and my responsibility to the members of this board.
“We have been in serious succession planning for two years,” Hopkins said. “The real question was when was a good time for me to leave and I thought it would be good for me to leave before the legislative session started,” when a new director could walk in when there’s “a state of calm.” The legislative session starts Jan. 14.
In July, state Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, called for Hopkins’ resignation, saying he didn’t believe Hopkins’ testimony that the director didn’t know about a $4.1 million referral fee paid to a Texas attorney in a class-action lawsuit in which the system was a lead representative.
Hopkins told the trustees he didn’t resign for reasons other than those that he outlined. The trustees plan to hold a teleconference Wednesday to consider approving a job description to advertise for the post.
The Teacher Retirement System is state government’s largest retirement system.
Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.