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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

UDC may return $18M in unspent funds

The troubled University of the District of Columbia is preparing to return up to $18 million in unused funds to the city.

Officials discovered the idle funds after reviewing their expenses for fiscal 2007, sources said. The university is raising students’ tuition by 40 percent in part because it claimed it was cash-strapped.

University spokesman J. Michael Andrews said officials were still reviewing the fiscal 2007 budget.

“We’re not finished yet,” he said. “But it looks, preliminarily, like there may be some underspending.”

The university was chartered in 1974 as D.C.’s only public college. It was designed to give poor and working-class students a shot at a top-flight education, but it has struggled for decades with mismanagement. Almost 25 provosts have come and gone since it opened.

The latest disclosure comes at the same time that federal and city authorities opened criminal investigations into the university’s spending. The D.C. and U.S. Department of Education inspectors general have been told millions in federal and local grants were lavished on no-bid contracts to cronies of top school officials, and millions more were wasted on programs that didn’t deliver promised results, sources said.

In June, the university’s board of trustees fired President William L. Pollard, but it left his command staff in place.

Last month, members of the university Senate sent blistering letters to acting university President Stanley Jackson and Mayor Adrian Fenty, demanding the replacement of Provost Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke and a top-to-bottom review of the university’s finances and academics.

The Sept. 27 letter to Fenty asks him to fix what the faculty calls a “debilitating state of affairs” that is “an impediment to the well-being of the University.”

Both Jackson and Reuben-Cooke couldn’t be reached for comment.


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