CONWAY -- A new complaint has accused a University of Central Arkansas executive of plagiarism and questioned some of her non-university business and speaking activities.
The anonymous complaint against Christina Munoz Madsen, associate vice president for communications, public relations and marketing, was filed with the university's staff and faculty senates Tuesday and released Wednesday under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
Two other complaints were filed previously with the faculty senate but focused on her work doing furniture commercials.
In the latest complaint, the accuser wrote, "I also question her academic integrity" and referred to a letter from the editor Madsen writes for UCA Magazine.
The complaint noted that in the November edition, Madsen wrote in part, "Science education is actually defined as the field in which we share science content and process with individuals not traditionally considered part of the scientific community."
The complaint then said, "I thought it sounded strange so I checked the internet. I learned that Ms. Madsen had taken this definition from Wikipedia, a site that no self-respecting academic would ever use for real research. Furthermore, she didn't even cite where the information was obtained from. In a classroom, this would be plagiarism. The highest form of academic fraud and we would never allow our students to do this. Why should she? For our university, this is unacceptable, especially from the same person who is supposed to represent our communications and promotion efforts."
An online search shows that a Wikipedia page on science education says in part, "Science education is the field concerned with sharing science content and process with individuals not traditionally considered part of the scientific community. "
UCA President Houston Davis, who was en route to a Southland Conference basketball game in Texas, said in an email Wednesday that he would have to find out more information on the Wikipedia allegation.
"As an academic, I always support proper attribution of ideas and content and, though errors can be made, we should always strive for 100 [percent] accuracy," Davis wrote.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette also sent questions about the Wikipedia issue and other matters to Madsen as well as Davis. Madsen had no comment on the Wikipedia issue.
"President Davis has already responded to these concerns and I have no further comment at this time," she said in an email.
Madsen has provided other information in response to questions and said she always takes annual leave when one of her other jobs takes her away from her UCA work during office hours.
The Democrat-Gazette reported previously that Madsen, a former anchor for Little Rock's KATV, also has been doing TV and online furniture commercials.
Madsen's statement of financial interest for 2017, filed with the secretary of state's office, lists the sources of her non-UCA income as the Ron Sherman Advertising firm in Little Rock and Rodan + Fields, a California skin-care products company for which she is an "independent consultant."
The financial statements do not require public officials to list specific income totals but ask if the sums were more than $1,000 or more than $12,500 in the preceding year. Madsen said the commercials last year totaled more than $1,000, that the consultant work earned more than $12,500, and her husband's work more than $1,000.
Madsen's annual salary at UCA is $130,707.
Davis said again Wednesday that UCA policy allows Madsen to have outside employment.
Davis said his initial review found that Madsen had followed the "appropriate channels for approval" of the outside work "and that time spent on the activities was outside of work time or had involved the taking of personal leave."
"Like all universities that I have worked for and with, it is common for faculty and staff to have opportunities for outside employment -- either to supplement income or stay involved professionally," he added.
Davis said he would look at other universities' procedures on such matters.
"If there are improvements to be made, we will work with our policy bodies and our board to make them," he added.
The newest complaint also noted that Madsen had given a Tedx Talk at the University of the Ozarks and questions if she had done that on UCA time and expense.
"She only mentioned [UCA] once or twice," the complaint said of the talk, which was titled "The Evolution of Passion" and focused on Madsen's life, faith and career. She ended it with her work for UCA and thanked the university, according to a YouTube recording of the speech.
Madsen said she would check today on the expenses question.
Davis said he had not heard the speech.
"It is my understanding that the invitation was to represent UCA but she was asked to talk about professional roles and career," he said. "Again I want to get more details, but this instance might be akin to educational and community groups inviting me to visit and talk about leadership and education's importance. In those cases, I always plug UCA and Bear Country but find myself primarily discussing education, mentors, and career and answer questions related to all."
State Desk on 03/08/2018
Print Headline: Marketer for UCA faces new complaint