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UCA makes policy changes after audit

Posted: December 7, 2012 - 9:41pm

No employees have been reprimanded or terminated since a University of Central Arkansas’s internal audit this week revealed that top officials at the university failed to properly document decisions to grant more money and renew a scholarship to then student Cameron Stark and did not question former Chief of Staff Jack Gillean about his “misplaced” master key, which police say Stark later used to steal exams from UCA buildings.

President Tom Courtway said during the Audit Committee on Friday that UCA has a process now for documenting a “found” key. He also said he plans to develop and present a fraud policy to UCA trustees in February and has a contract for a third-party-run tip hotline that will allow faculty and staff to report abuse starting in January.

The policy and hotline were recommended by auditors in the Security Breach Report.

The hotline, through Lighthouse Services, Inc., will cost UCA $1,120. Officials plan to market the hotline, including adding an online “button” that employees can use to leave tips. The police’s current tip line will be merged into the third-party hotline, Police Chief Larry James said.

Internal Audit Director Pamela Massey said the fraud policy has not yet been developed, but UCA is looking at the University of Arkansas System’s hotline as a model.

Courtway said after the Board of Trustees meeting Friday that he would not comment about why no one was reprimanded. He said he planned to review the audit and make sure UCA is doing what it can to make sure problems revealed by the audit do not reoccur.

“That’s really all I’m going to say at this time,” Courtway said.

At least one official is no longer with the university — Gillean.

Gillean resigned suddenly this past June and was arrested in October after Stark said Gillean gave him the keys he used to steal exams from buildings between Feb. 13 and April 23, 2011. Gillean has been charged with four felonies, and Stark is a key witness with immunity.

The audit, which has been turned over to prosecutors, looked at a wide-range of issues on campus, from malfunctioned surveillance cameras to staff approving a scholarship worth thousands of dollars without proper documentation, between spring 2011 and spring 2012.

During the Audit meeting, trustees questioned Larry Lawrence, physical plant director, about why a key an employee found in spring 2011 was turned back over to Gillean without question and without physical plant employees documenting the find. Lawrence said until he created a “found” key documentation process this week, there wasn’t one in place.

Stolen keys are reported to police, and lost keys are reported to the Physical Plant, but found keys had no documentation requirement, he said. The key was treated as a purse might be and returned to the owner, he said.

In his written response to auditors Lawrence wrote: “At the time and without knowledge of all of these issues that we are now aware of, the simple thought was to return the lost key.”

At one point, Gillean also approved his own key request for a replacement. Since the audit, officials have changed to policy so that vice presidents cannot request their own key, Lawrence said. UCA also strengthened requirements on who gets a key, Lawrence and Courtway said.

Currently, about 30 UCA employees have a master key, according to UCA documents.

Other changes at UCA include weekly checks to make sure surveillance cameras are working properly.

The Financial Aid Office also changed its policy so that an acquaintance and friends of a student cannot approve increasing money for a student to use for unexpected costs.

That change is tied to Andrew Linn, assistant director of Financial Aid for Scholarships, after he approved money to cover repairing a stolen and damaged car for Stark, who was his “acquaintance,” in fiscal 2009-2010, he said previously. The audit showed supporting documents were missing, including the police report filed when the car was stolen in March 2010.

Linn later submitted the police report to auditors, but Internal Audit discovered inconsistencies that appear to show Stark bought wheels to repair the vehicle before it was stolen.

“(I)t appears that the sales order was processed before the car was reported stolen,” auditors wrote in response to management. “It should also be noted that the student did not have his car recovered on the date Mr. Linn in Financial Aid was inputting a COA adjustment for an unexpected expense of repairing a stolen car. The student would have no way of knowing the condition of his recovered vehicle when it was still being towed on March 15, 2010, and the police had not had contact with the owner.”

Financial Aid Director Cheryl Lyons told auditors Friday that Linn was working off memory on an event that happened two years ago when auditors interviewed him. That was why the dates of he gave auditors and the dates on sales tickets do not match, she said.

The adjustment was made based on Linn’s professional judgement, Lyons said. Documentation supported the student’s request, Robert Parrent, vice president for enrollment, wrote in his response to the audit.

Audit Committee members also asked about Stark’s scholarship, which was renewed even though Stark completed only 26 hours of the required 30 hours during the 2010-2011 academic year. The scholarship was approved pending documentation of a medical exception, but Stark never turned in those documents, said Julia Winden Fey, associate vice president for the enrollment management division.

“I believe it was missed at the end of the year,” Winden Fey said.

In the future, scholarship renewal appeals will be reviewed by two employees and if both approve, a third will input the renewal into the university’s system. The approval process will be in the Financial Aid office starting July 1, according to Parrent’s response.

The audit also pointed out that Gillean circumvented “a specific application process” by filling out and approving a time sheet for one student. The President’s Office has discontinued using student workers.

Auditors found that Gillean did not have access to change grades at UCA, but officials plan to restrict further who has access to changing grades, according to a management response.

UCA also notified the state about Stark stealing tests, according to the audit presented and approved Friday.

“The Director of Financial Aid has notified the federal office of Inspector General. The Financial Aid Director will notify the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, Financial Aid Division, as it relates to state funding received by the student,” Parrent wrote.

The Board of Trustees approved the audit report with little discussion.

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sevenof400
7002
Points
sevenof400 12/08/12 - 10:14 am
3
0
The stench continues to emanate...

...from UCA and in an even sadder observation, it seems to be enveloping the silent Courtway.

This investigation should have been conducted by external sources in full public light. UCA has violated the public trust all too frequently over the years for the public to have any trust in an internal investigation.

3393
Points
Terri Powers 12/08/12 - 10:45 am
3
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The audit report was forwarded

The audit report was forwarded to state auditors. When they review it, if they have remaining questions or concerns, you can bet they will audit as well.

sevenof400
7002
Points
sevenof400 12/08/12 - 11:03 am
4
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I do hope the state....

...investigates this situation thoroughly too Terri. I just wish the state had been involved at the outset.

3393
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Terri Powers 12/08/12 - 11:29 am
3
0
Agree

Agree

NoKidding
2460
Points
NoKidding 12/08/12 - 01:07 pm
3
0
But that was years ago.

There was a time when UCA was admired in Arkansas.

sevenof400
7002
Points
sevenof400 12/08/12 - 01:26 pm
3
0
A long time ago.....

....under an administration now far away....

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