Colleges & Campus News

My Letter to a ‘Discouraged Employee’

By President Dale Whittaker |
February 1, 2019

(Photo by Nick Leyva '15)

I received a thoughtful letter from a “Discouraged Employee” this week. I read it carefully and encourage you to do the same.

This employee could represent anyone on our campus and deserves a response. I hope this reaches the author.

Dear Discouraged Employee,

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I offended you and your Administration and Finance colleagues in my message about Trevor Colbourn Hall.

I hope you will accept my apology. I’d also like to share my experience with this building so that you can see my comments were about choices made by a few key decision makers in the division, not you and your colleagues.

What Happened Was Wrong

Simply put, according to an independent investigation, senior officials in the Administration and Finance division knowingly used $38 million of restricted state funds to build a building. Trevor Colbourn Hall wasn’t the only one. Over a number of years, about $85 million was spent, or planned to be spent, inappropriately.

That’s not right. Even if this was done to solve a problem, leaders can’t break rules they don’t like. And they shouldn’t ask others to do the same.

UCF is an incredible institution with faculty and staff who believe in our mission and act with integrity. That is our culture; I see it every day.

As I said after yesterday’s Board of Governors’ meeting, I am in this for the long haul and am committed to leading us to a better future. That starts with rebuilding trust on campus and in our community and state.

What I Knew

As provost, my focus was accommodating our growing faculty and planning which academic units would go into Trevor Colbourn Hall. That’s what a provost does.

A CFO is responsible for identifying funds for construction projects and making sure they’re appropriate to use.

There have been a lot of recent headlines that, when I was provost, I knew there was a funding plan that involved using Education & General (E&G) dollars for Trevor Colbourn Hall. That’s true … but I didn’t know and wasn’t told that these funds were wrong to use.

If I had known that, I would have spoken up and worked to stop it.

What’s Next

As president, I am responsible for owning and fixing the problems of the past. Now, we are making changes that will make us stronger.

You suggest I meet as many of UCF’s dedicated and hardworking employees as I can. That’s a great idea, and I am scheduling additional visits to colleges and divisions to hear from you.

I believe in the power of UCF’s people. Together, we will continue changing lives and creating opportunities for the tens of thousands of students and an entire community who trusts us to do just that.

Sincerely,

UCF President Dale Whittaker