Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Florida House hammers UCF leaders, state university board in new report

Posted By on Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 5:57 PM

click to enlarge Trevor Colbourn Hall - PHOTO BY JOEY ROULETTE
  • Photo by Joey Roulette
  • Trevor Colbourn Hall
A draft report from the Florida House's ethics committee released Monday hammered University of Central Florida leaders and the state university board system.

The report from the House Public Integrity and Ethics committee focused on the university's illegal misdirection of $85 million in leftover operating funds from the state, part of which was used replace Trevor Colbourn Hall with a $38 million new building.

"UCF's budgeting and spending practices fostered ad hoc and unaccountable decisions," the report says. "Compliance activities of the university were inadequate to identify the misspending."

UCF's Board of Trustees "lacked training and information necessary to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities," but the Board of Governors, which oversees Florida's universities, contributed to UCF's misspending by having "limited oversight," according to the report.

The ethics committee also found that without oversight on leftover operating funds from UCF's BOT, former President John Hitt and chief financial officer Bill Merck were "able to dismiss legal restrictions." Recently resigned President Dale Whittaker also "failed to learn about legal constraints on spending, despite responsibility to do so," the report says.

"BOT members were unaware that UCF was violating state laws, but
they could have and should have known more than they did," the report argues. "The BOT may have been misled by the Administration, but they also neglected to review information closely and failed to ask detailed
questions. In combination, the dereliction of duty by UCF administrators and the laxity of oversight by BOT members created significant risks for UCF."

The full report is expected to be released this week.

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