Financial debacle may be the first of many for USF

In the aftermath of events such as President Judy Genshaft’s conspicuous string of pay raises, it seems that more scandal and internal corruption is continuing to take place at USF, this time in the form of mismanaged funds in the English Language Institute.

After the discovery of $275,000 in cash and checks – many of which were several years old – in an office at the Institute, it is obvious that there needs to be a tightening up of all 170 agencies at USF that are responsible for the collection of funds. To the University’s credit, it’s in the process of centralizing money collection in response to the event and in line with recommendations made in a state-administered audit of the 2004 fiscal year.

However, this is not the first instance that has brought USF’s problems with fund collections to light. The aforementioned audit found an array of financial problems, such as instances in which “the University implemented an administrative service charge for certain international students without specific authority to do so.”

With respect to discrepancies such as the post-dated checks, the auditor also found that “bank account reconciliations were not always of record, timely prepared” and also that there were other locations at the University that “deposited (receipts) between three and 18 business days after the moneys were received.”

“The Institute lost a large amount of money that they will not be getting back,” University spokeswoman Michelle Carlyon was quoted in Friday’s Oracle.

If the ELI’s post-dated checks are any indication as to how long this corruption had been going on – some of the checks are dated as far back as 1992 – many people, not just in the ELI but throughout USF, were either discouragingly unaware as to what was going on or turned a blind eye to the problem for far too long.

As a result, the University will suffer untold amounts of bad publicity (CNN and the Associated Press picked up the story after it was brought to attention in Friday’s Oracle) and could be facing serious penalties from the Internal Revenue Service.

Moreover, USF’s disciplinary actions may have staff and faculty worrying about what could happen to them if and when the hammer falls on a future University-wide problem.