Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Un-'Favor'-Able Times at Grambling

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Un-'Favor'-Able Times at Grambling

Article excerpt

Un-`Favor'-able Times At Grambling: School's sixth president tries to convince the board he can reverse calamitous financial problems

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Dr. Steve A. Favors, the president of historically Black Grambling State University, is in the hot seat here over a scathing legislative audit.

In his review of the records for the fiscal years that ended in June 1998 and June 1999, Louisiana Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle found numerous accounting problems at the school, such as incomplete records, errors and omissions in cash receipts and a lack of bank reconciliations.

This comes at a time when university officials are preparing for the institution's 10-year accreditation review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, with a decision due by December. School officials have not said how or whether this latest calamity will affect the outcome of the review, but outsiders are concerned that the audit could thwart that proceeding.

In the meantime, a special committee of the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors expects to meet every two weeks or so in order to oversee developments at Grambling.

For his part, Favors says many of the school's problems stem from snafus that arose when Grambling switched computer accounting systems. In all, four months of financial records were lost.

Favors also says he's moving to hire an outside accounting firm to try and recreate records from July 1 through October 25, 1998, adding that he's hiring additional staff in the accounting department, where there are five vacancies.

But Kyle's audit also includes other claims, such as the alleged awarding of scholarships to students not enrolled in the university. Favors denies that any scholarships were ever actually awarded to any nonstudents. While the scholarships were simply noted in the students' files, the money was never actually released until they enrolled at Grambling, the president said in his official response to his governing board, the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana system.

Favors, who claims there were several similar misunderstandings in the audit, acknowledges that the school has financial recording-keeping problems. He blames most of those problems on the resignations of five senior staff members in the past fiscal year.

But Kyle says Grambling's books were in such disarray that his staff couldn't audit them, and that the audits turned up other problems, too. …

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