For the past four months, UCF has been dealing with important issues concerning inappropriate funds used to build Trevor Colbourn Hall.
In September, the Board of Trustees launched an independent, third-party investigation led by a former federal prosecutor who reviewed thousands of documents and conducted dozens of interviews.
Yesterday, the university received the final report, which the Board of Trustees will discuss at a special meeting this afternoon. This note is to let you know the actions I am taking in response to the report.
I was interviewed as part of the investigation. The report supports what I told the Board of Trustees in September: Although I knew about the funding source used for Trevor Colbourn Hall, I was never told, and never knew, that using these funds was inappropriate — for this project or any others.
More Than One Building
We know inappropriate spending was not isolated to Trevor Colbourn Hall. In all, construction projects totaling about $85 million were either built, or planned to be built, with inappropriate funds.
This is about more than one building. We understand the scope of what happened, we accept responsibility for it … and, frankly, we’re embarrassed by it.
I read the report carefully. What I saw was a broken culture in one of our areas where UCF’s core values were not embraced. Because this is a matter of culture — and not a singular problem — our solutions have to be comprehensive and reaffirm our values.
With that in mind, earlier today I began the termination process for four administrators in the Administration and Finance division.
A culture of integrity, ethics and accountability is driven by people. That’s why I am creating the new position of Chief Accountability Officer, which will elevate our focus on these fundamental values; oversee our University Compliance, Ethics and Risk Office; and help ensure everyone feels comfortable speaking up when they see something they know or believe is illegal or unethical.
Separately, I can think of no better example of integrity than retired Lieutenant General Robert L. Caslen, a decorated Army veteran and former superintendent for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. I hired General Caslen this month and charged him with leading change in our administration and finance operations.
Moving forward, we will ensure that every dollar we spend is appropriate and that we have the right checks and balances in place.
To do this, I made several changes last fall, among them:
- requiring real-time audits for all major capital projects,
- issuing a moratorium on new capital projects over $2 million, and
- separating the position of vice president for Administration and Finance from the CFO position to ensure independent fiscal oversight.
The separation of these positions will be a permanent change, recommended by this report and Accenture, the global management consulting firm I hired in October to review our administration and finance organizational structure.
A new chief operating officer will be responsible for many operational areas, and a new chief financial officer will oversee financial management services. We will immediately begin national searches for these positions.
As president, I will rebuild a culture where leadership — starting with me — serves the university with integrity, competency and openness.
Together, we will make UCF a model for what higher education can be for the United States.
When I became president, I said that UCF has a bold future ahead … and that I believe in the power of our people.
To the faculty, staff and students who come to UCF every day, work hard and act with integrity, let me say this: As difficult as it is now, your university will be stronger because of this. Together, we will keep changing lives and creating opportunities for our community and state.