Howard University probe reveals mismanagement of grant funding by some employees
Six people employed by the HBCU were found to have mishandled funds that came from the school, its president says
An explosive report revealed that six Howard University employees stole more than a million dollars from the school and have now been fired after a whistle-blower exposed the theft on social media, reports NBC.
Howard University’s president Wayne Frederick released a statement acknowledging that an audit of their 2006 to 2016 records found that there were university grants that were awarded to some employees that were also receiving tuition remission. But the funds were mishandled and taken by those employees, which equaled more than the cost of attendance, allowing them to receive “inappropriate refunds.”
“While this has been a very difficult and disappointing situation, I know our campus community deserves better and I am committed to insuring that each of our campus offices operate with integrity and are the best that higher education has to offer,” said Frederick.
An outside auditor spearheaded the investigation and once the misappropriation of funds was determined, the school alerted the Department of Education in July 2017. By September, the six employees were fired for “gross misconduct and neglect of duties.” And a whistleblower shared the information on the blogging platform, Medium.
Frederick has released a statement, outlining new policies implemented after the incident. Those include:
- Annual budgets for each category of financial aid are now loaded into the university’s Banner student information system by the University Budget Office consistent with the university’s overall Financial Aid Budget.
- Approval for all awards of university grants are now reviewed and approved by the Budget Office prior to being awarded by the Financial Aid Office
- Approval for all donor-designated scholarship awards are now reviewed and approved by the Controller’s Office prior to being awarded by the Financial Aid Office.
- Approval for all grant-funded financial aid are now reviewed and approved by the university’s Grant Accounting Unit prior to being awarded by the Financial Aid Office.
- Access to the Banner financial aid module has now been limited to a small number of appropriate senior University individuals, with adequate third-party review and appropriate segregation of duties.
- An annual reconciliation of awarded financial aid to approved financial aid is now being conducted.
- Management has established proper reporting relationships and segregation of duties within the Financial Aid Office.
- Management is in the process of hiring for all remaining open positions in the Financial Aid Office and enhanced training on policies and procedures will be provided both to new hires and continuing employees.
- A new Associate Provost for Enrollment Management and a new Chief Compliance Officer have been hired by the University.