Warrick to Washington: Stop contacting staff
Feb 22, 2013 (The Times and Democrat - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
South Carolina State University interim president Dr. Cynthia Warrick questioned a board member's decision to develop his own financial statement, saying he took university employees away from their jobs to make it.
After trustee Maurice Washington presented his statement, Warrick told him he could work for the university if he likes.
"If you want to come down here and be an employee and be a volunteer, to work with us, let me know and we can make that happen. We'll put you in an office so that you can work," Warrick said. "I'm serious, we do accept volunteers at the university."
Washington, who heads the budget committee, developed the financial statement that shows S.C. State with a possible rolling deficit of $9.5 million for the current fiscal year.
He presented it to trustees at Thursday's board meeting, but Warrick protested that neither she nor Vice President for Finance Eric Eaton had seen a copy of the statement before the meeting.
Warrick told Washington that he should not be involved in creating financial reports.
"That's trustee involvement in administration of the university," she said. "It's our responsibility to produce the report."
Washington's involvement in creating reports could create problems with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Warrick said.
Washington said he contacted the university's internal auditor on the advice of the audit committee.
"I worked this process through with the internal auditor on the recommendation of the audit committee that we get with your staff to try to work this out internally," he said.
Washington said he'd invited Warrick and Eaton through the internal auditor, but Warrick said she was unable to meet with Washington at the time he set up.
"It's our responsibility to communicate to you and it's not your responsibility to take it upon yourself," Warrick said.
Warrick said that Washington had no right to contact her staff personally or to pull them away from their regular duties.
"I've asked that you stop doing that and communicate through me to my staff because that's the appropriate way for a trustee to communicate with administrative staff," she said.
The time her staff spent pulling figures together for Washington could have been used in looking at ways to address the university's deficit, Warrick said.
"What I take issue with is we have folks on our staff who are meeting outside with you, Mr. Washington," she said.
After examining Washington's report, Eaton said there were some problems with it and he disagreed with some of the numbers.
For example, Eaton said Washington mixed auxiliary funds in with the Education and General budget and shouldn't have done that.
Additionally, Washington's figures show a $3.1 million deficit for the current year. The deficit is not that much, he said.
Eaton said that the administration has been taking very aggressive measures to deal with the deficit.
That was brought out at the Feb. 7 committee meeting, he said.
Those measures include a freeze on all but absolutely necessary spending, he said. As a last resort, there may have to be some furlough days, he said.
Eaton said he's confident that the university will break even for the year, but there will be no surpluses.
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