The university must take steps to protect itself from “the fraudulent behavior of upper administration.” That’s the conclusion of an internal audit report issued in December.
The report cites eight examples of fraud or abuse the auditors found during the review, which covered the past four years, and makes recommendations to prevent the fraud from happening again. The report includes responses to the recommendations from UCA President Tom Courtway and other top administrators.
The university ordered the internal audit in June following the abrupt resignation of Jack Gillean, the university’s chief of staff. Gillean is facing three felony counts of commercial burglary, one felony count of fraudulent insurance acts and a misdemeanor count of issuing a false statement. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his next court appearance is scheduled for March 4.
Most of the fraud was attributed to Gillean and connected to his relationship with former student Cameron Stark, who worked for Gillean in the president’s office. Andrew Linn, an advisor in the financial aid office, was implicated in the report and fired earlier this month.
Here are the findings and recommendations of the audit:
- The university should approve a policy that establishes a fraud “hotline” that allows employees to anonymously report suspected fraud. The audit found that some employees knew about the fraud involving Gillean, including that Stark had Gillean’s “grand master key,” but were afraid to report it. Gillean also had approved his own request for the key, which provides universal access to every building and office on campus.
- The university should install and maintain a comprehensive surveillance camera system on campus and replace metal keys with electronic security cards. A broken security camera in Wingo Hall failed to capture the image of someone entering the administrative offices with Gillean’s “grand master key” last June.
- The university should amend its conflict-of-interest restrictions in the financial aid office to prohibit financial aid advisors from working directly with personal friends. The report established that Stark and Linn were friends before and while Linn was Stark’s financial advisor. The existing conflict-of-interest statement only restricts advisors from working with family members. The financial aid office also must provide more supervision over decisions to grant special exemptions to students.
- The university should follow the existing rules for academic scholarships. The audit found that the university waived at least one of the rules for the Presidential Scholarship to award it to Stark. The report recommended that the university document the reasons for any future waivers.
- University employees should stop falsifying student worker time sheets. The audit found that four student workers in the president’s office, all supervised by Gillean, had been paid for hours they didn’t work. Gillean approved the time sheets for at least one student and intimidated his assistant to approve others. The report recommends that student workers be paid and supervised by the university entity that hires them and that subordinates never be asked to approve a supervisor’s actions.
- The university should draft a new fraud policy that provides a safe environment for employees who know about fraud to report it.
- The university should contact state and federal authorities to report the fraud and require Stark to repay the university for a university scholarship he received. Stark also is accused of using Gillean’s “grand master key” to enter several professors’ offices and steal tests. Stark has been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony against Gillean.
- The university should ensure that access to changing grades in the Banner system is limited to authorized personnel in the Office of the Registrar. The report recommends that the university monitor the system regularly to ensure security.
The administration has responded to some of the recommendations.
- There are no longer any student workers in the president’s office.
- The fraud hotline should be operational by the end of the month.
- The fraud has been reported to federal authorities.
- A new fraud policy has been written and will be submitted to the Board of Trustees on Friday.
- Access to changing grades in the Banner system has been restricted to only Office of the Registrar staff.
Courtway said he is continuing to meet with other administrators to determine how to respond to the recommendations in the audit report.
Here is a copy of the complete audit report. The Fountain’s staff made no alterations to the document. The marks and notes on the report were there when we received it.
Here are some of the text messages between Linn and Stark that were included in Linn’s personnel file, which also contained the audit report. They were included to illustrate the inappropriate relationship between the two. A Fountain reporter added the yellow highlighting to this document. Warning: Some of these text messages contain adult language and subject matter.