Lawrence A. Davis Jr., chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff for more than 20 years, turned in his resignation Thursday.

Lawrence A. Davis Jr., chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff for more than 20 years, turned in his resignation Thursday.

“Over these years with limited resources I served to the best of my ability,” Davis said in the letter to UAPB faculty, staff and students.“However, I am now anticipating the realization of other aspirations. Consequently, I am resigning my position as Chancellor of UAPB effective May 25, 2012.”

“I sincerely appreciate the opportunity which I was provided over the years since 1961 to serve as instructor, assistant professor, associate professor and professor of mathematics and physics at AM&N College and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff,” Davis said in the letter which was also issued as a press release. “The support I received from various stakeholders as I served as Department Chair of Mathematics and Physics for two years; Dean of Arts and Sciences/Science and Technology for 15 years and as Chancellor of UAPB since November 5, 1991, was a great source of motivation.”

Davis declined to make any additional comments when contacted about his resignation letter Thursday afternoon.

Although Davis announced he was resigning, U of A said he was retiring.

U of A System President Donald R. Bobbitt said in a press release that he will appoint an interim chancellor to serve in the position until a search for a permanent successor is complete. Bobbitt said the nationwide search will involve UAPB students, faculty, staff and alumni, along with community and state leaders.

“I am grateful to Chancellor Davis for his service to UAPB, its students, faculty and staff, alumni and the University of Arkansas System,” Bobbitt said. “Chancellor Davis’ tenure at UAPB has seen the institution grow in both size and prominence. The transformation of the campus physical plant and the approval of the doctoral program in aquaculture and fisheries are just two of the many accomplishments achieved under his leadership.”

“As a student, faculty member, dean and chancellor, Dr. Davis has given almost 50 years of his life to UAPB, and we are appreciative of his service,” Bobbitt said.

Davis’ father, Lawrence A. Davis Sr., was president and later chancellor of the university, formerly named Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College, from 1943-72.

Controversy

Although it was not mentioned by Davis or the U of A officials Thursday, Davis’ resignation follows the recent release of an audit report that found numerous problems with the way funding was accounted for and spent.

Four UAPB employees were fired — including Davis’ secretary — in February after an audit by the U of A System uncovered a long list of financial issues. Davis publicly rebutted the audit’s findings in meetings before UAPB staff and students and said no money was missing.

Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter said this week that the Arkansas State Police investigation he had requested was continuing, and the agents conducting the investigation into alleged fraudulent activity related to the contents of the audit findings were not able to give him a time frame for when it will be completed.

The U of A System audit investigated allegations of fraud and abuse of funds at the Harrold Dorm Complex and Living Learning Center between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2010.

The U of A System audit findings include:

* $736,880 in payments related to payroll and purchasing orders did not go through the proper accounting channels and, consequently, the auditors could not verify that they had been spent properly;

* $4,219 from seven disbursements out of the university’s Title III Endowment Agency Account that Harrold Complex director Rita Ticey was unable to provide supporting documents for, with five of the seven disbursements totaling $3,619 as personal reimbursements to Ticey;

* State nepotism laws and university policies were violated;

* Standard payroll and vendor procedures were generally disregarded;

* Payroll issues including student workers who were overpaid or underpaid, students reporting working 12-hour days or work days without lunch breaks, student workers reporting long hours, including one who reported working 110 hours in one week, duplicate payroll payments to the same employee and other issues;

* Vendor payment issues including payments made to vendors whose existence could not be verified by auditors, vendors paid differently for the same job, vendors selected without going through the proper competitive bid process, a $25,475 payment made to the Athletic Department that Ticey could not explain and other issues.