USF may want to wait before popping the cork on any champagne bottles and delay any celebration based on the results of the audit on Vice President of Student Affairs Jennifer Meningall.
USF spokesman Ken Gullette sent an e-mail to USF faculty and staff titled “Meningall Cleared of Wrongdoing – A University Statement” on Nov. 5. The title, like much of the language included in the text of the e-mail, is misleading.
One primary misdirection is the claim that Meningall has been cleared of all the accusations that were made against her. The audit that was presented recently by the University Audit and Compliance was only related to accusations of financial impropriety under Meningall. The e-mail that spurred the audit, sent by James Dragna, also accused Meningall of other violations, including slapping an employee and intimidation.
The audit itself does not award Meningall a clean slate. According to the report, there appears to be many questions that have yet to be properly answered regarding the financial aspect of Dragna’s claims. Accusations that “hiring a security consultant was a waste of resources,” valued at $13,000, were unfounded. However, the accusation that more than $1.1 million of “carry-forward funds went toward salaries” inappropriately was proven to be true. Similarly, the accusation that “the 2 percent auxiliary assessment was an inappropriate use of student fees, worth more than $1.5 million, was also inconclusive.
It is hard to determine what report USF is boasting about when the most serious offenses were proven to be true or were unable to be proven otherwise.
Gullette’s e-mail also states that Dragna did not follow the appropriate measures in how he handled his concerns about the department. Genshaft is quick to deem him a character assassin. However, Dragna mentions in the e-mail that he had contacted other offices, and that the e-mail was a last resort. It wasn’t until the e-mail was sent to the public that USF took the initiative to conduct an audit. Even then, they chose to do it internally, which leaves many outside of the department suspicious.
The e-mail contained a laundry list of other concerns regarding Meningall, including employee intimidation. When the Oracle questioned directors of her office regarding the fact that they were unaware of anyone who was audited for the report, they requested anonymity to ensure their job safety.
It is clear that USF has become more concerned with details of policy and procedure than it is with ethics. If nothing else, USF’s celebratory e-mail is quite premature.