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The House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee has launched a probe into the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) improper use of $52 million in operating funds to pay for campus construction projects.
The real focus of the investigation, however, may not be limited to how UCF misappropriated money for capital improvements but the spending procedures of all 12 state universities.
State - Policy - Use - Operating - Funds
State policy restricts the use of operating funds allocated to universities by the Legislature to pay for activities such as instruction, research, libraries, student services or maintenance.
State auditors in August revealed UCF, the state’s largest public university, used $38 million from a carry-forward account in its operational funding over a four-year span to build its 137,000-square-foot Trevor Colbourn Hall.
Result - Revelations - Florida - Board - Governors
As a result of the revelations, the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the university system, has called for all 12 universities to review their capital improvements funding over the past decade, especially in reference to the use of "carry forward" fund balances, and to assess their auditing processes.
The board addressed the misuse of the money in an August meeting in which UCF President Dale Whittaker acknowledged the "improper use" of the funds and said the school had replaced the money.
Whittaker - School - Steps - Issues - Resignation
Whittaker said the school had taken steps to prevent future issues, beginning with the resignation of UCF Chief Financial Officer William Merck and hiring an Atlanta law firm, Bryan Cave Leighton and Paisner, to independently investigate the issue and submit a report by Jan. 24.
The board is expected to review the report at its Jan. 30 meeting at Florida International University.
House - Speaker - Richard - Corcoran - Gov
But former House Speaker Richard Corcoran, recently appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to be the state’s Commissioner of Education, was not satisfied with leaving the board to exclusively deal with the matter.
In August, he appointed current House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Hialeah, to spearhead an...
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