LITTLE ROCK — Department chairmen at Arkansas universities are required to file statements of financial interest, the state Ethics Commission said in an advisory opinion Friday.

LITTLE ROCK — Department chairmen at Arkansas universities are required to file statements of financial interest, the state Ethics Commission said in an advisory opinion Friday.

The commission issued the opinion at the request of Jack Gillean, chief of staff in the president’s office at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

Arkansas Code 21-8-701 states in part that “any agency head, department director or division director of state government” must file an annual state of financial interest with the secretary of state’s office. Gillean had asked the Ethics Commission whether that applied to the chairmen of the university’s academic departments.

The panel said in the advisory opinion that it interprets the law to require the filing of financial statements by “persons in charge of departments or divisions within a university, regardless of the title given to those persons,” and that chairmen of UCA’s academic departments would fall into that category.

Gillean said Friday that each year UCA notifies the people on campus who are required to file financial statements, and department chairmen — UCA has about 40 — were included in the most recent notification for the first time.

“Many of them questioned whether under the statute they fell within the meaning of a department director or a division director, and therefore they didn’t believe that they were required to file the statement,” Gillean said.

“So we asked for an opinion from the Ethics Commission.”

Gillean said a new memo will go out to the department heads advising them that the Ethics Commission ruled that they have to file financial statements, though he added that “the filing deadline was Jan. 31, so hopefully they have done so.”