Auditors begin investigation of Bowie State foundation Board of Regents meets with school's president

May 15, 1998|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Auditors began their investigation of the Bowie State University Foundation's troubled finances yesterday, even as the University System of Maryland Board of Regents called the school's president into a closed session to discuss the problems.

Donald N. Langenberg, chancellor of the 11-campus university system, played down the significance of the closed meeting with the regents' advancement committee, which oversees university foundations. He described it as an opportunity for the regents to hear directly from Bowie President Nathanael Pollard Jr.

"We're making sure our regents, who are the governing body for the university system, that they fully understand the circumstances so they can understand what they are dealing with," Langenberg said.

Bowie State has been under scrutiny since a audit released last week revealed that foundation officials overspent their general operating budget by $63,869 during the 1997 fiscal year and used scholarship and campus activity money to cover the deficit.

On Wednesday, Russell A. Davis, the university's vice president for student and academic services who was assigned in January to help correct the foundation's money problems, resigned abruptly from the university after articles in The Sun documented his financial history and apparent misrepresentations on his resume.

State authorities have been trying for the past two days to serve a warrant on Davis stemming from a charge that he failed to return a rental car in 1991.

"I think it's clear that Mr. Davis knows he has a warrant pending against him," said Leonard A. Sipes Jr., spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. "I think it's clear that Mr. Davis realizes that he has a responsibility to turn himself over to authorities."

A public safety official said Davis, working with his attorneys, is expected to surrender.

Alfred Chavez Jr., the system's chief auditor, who is leading the university's investigation of the foundation's finances, said he and audit manager Brian Ford will spend five to six weeks combing through records to determine how the foundation came to overspend its operating account.

"The worst case scenario is the money was stolen," Chavez said. "The best case scenario is the money was misspent."

Chavez said he will review Bowie's procedures for determining whether employees have the proper degrees for their jobs and randomly check employee personnel files to ensure that proof of the credentials are on file.

Although the meeting with Pollard was added to the committee's scheduled agenda after the trouble at his school was made public, Langenberg insisted the closed meeting did not indicate Pollard's job was in jeopardy.

"He's not in big trouble because of this incident," Langenberg said.

Wendell Holloway, chairman of the advancement committee, read a statement after the session:

"On behalf of the members of the advancement committee, I want to stress the seriousness with which we view recent events involving the Bowie State University Foundation. I also want to endorse strongly the measures being taken by Chancellor Langenberg and by President Pollard to address the issues raised in the external audit of the Bowie Foundation and in press reports."

Pollard reiterated those steps and said he is consulting with the state attorney general's office about possible legal action against Davis for misrepresenting himself on his resume.

John Anderson, an assistant attorney general handling university matters, said no decision has been made whether to charge Davis.

Langenberg said that next month he plans to talk with all university system presidents about ensuring that employees have proper credentials. When asked how the problem will be addressed, he said, "Truth is, I don't know."

Pub Date: 5/15/98

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