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Author Topic: Unacceptable NDSU Audit Findings  (Read 2438 times)

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Anonymous Student

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Unacceptable NDSU Audit Findings
« on: September 10, 2010, 11:58:04 pm »
The NDSU Audit findings are out and lets take a look at what the Fargo Forum is reporting on it.  The full article is at the bottom of this post.

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Two employees attended a Tony Robbins “Unleash the Power Within” motivational seminar in Los Angeles at a “diamond premiere” price of $2,595 per person rather than the general admission rate of $995 per person.   The employees were Steve Winfrey, director of the Memorial Union, and Chris Suriano, the union’s associate director of operations

Seriously?  And this was paid for, in part, by student fees?  First, I question the value in attending “Unleash the Power Within” for the director of the union and assoc. director of operations.. was it really needed for the success of the union.. I would say no. Second, the cost is excessive, especially considering it is about $1500 more than the standard cost.

The worst part of this is that the union has come to student government over the past years pleading for more money for operations of the union.  If the union has been hurting so much for money, dont you think that the director and assoc. director could have not gone to a seemingly unneeded, expensive, conference?  :sign13:  I think they should have been more responsible and skipped it.  Its a shame that the students have had to pick up part of this cost, it is unacceptable.

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Winfrey also attended the Tony Robbins Leadership Masters University event with a registration cost of $9,995

Nearly $10,000 for another leadership event???  Wow, this Tony Robbins must be making a killing.  I hope this was some great event and that students are actually benefiting, though I am not sure exactly how much, if so?

I hope that someone is evaluating all of these leadership programs that the union is putting on and that they arent a waste of money that the whole student body is footing for a relatively few number of students.

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Since 2003, NDSU subleased the Equine Center to Horse Race North Dakota each summer during the horse racing season. In fiscal year 2008, NDSU charged a rental price of $4,000 per month while the cost to NDSU was $30,137 a month.  In fiscal year 2009, NDSU charged $5,400 a month, while the cost to NDSU was $32,962 per month.

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Brucks said NDSU did not consider operational costs when setting the lease rate. Brucks said he was told by Bruce Frantz, NDSU’s former director of facilities, that the lease rate was “pulled out of the air.”

Someone really dropped the ball on this one.  Come on people, lets do some research.  You simply pulled it out of the air?  Funny, how I couldnt just pull things out of the air for my classes.  Lets be a little more serious and do our jobs people.   :mystery:


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The audit questions employees who flew first class or business class three separate times, costing the university $19,845.

What??? Almost $20,000 for three airplane tickets?  Did they rent the whole dang plane or what?  Make them pay the amounts back, something isnt right here.  Did they fly around the world or something?  This has to stop, this is unacceptable!  :mob:

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Brucks said the reason given to him for the upgrades was so the employees could be “well rested” for meetings.

What, did they have a personal butler and masseuse or something?  Can we say stupid.


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Virginia Clark Johnson, dean of the College of Human Development and Education, used a university credit card to pay for $746 in alcohol and bartender fees for a “Women in Deanship” conference in Denver.

Now Virginia, you do know that NDSU does not promote alcohol dont you? 

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Brucks said NDSU officials have said the university was reimbursed for that expense, but he asked for documentation, and they have not provided it.

I think Virginia needs to prove that she paid it back, if not take it out of her paycheck.  And make sure it wasnt siphoned out of student fees, like a lot of departments have tried or done.


How bout people quit screwing around and doing stupid things.  You all are supposed to be professionals and act accordingly. If you made a bad decision own up to it and fix the issue.  :mob:

:angryfire: :cussing: :BangHead: :angry5:



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Audit: NDSU misspent funds
Among charges: College spent taxpayer money on unused hotel rooms, seminars, alcohol
North Dakota State University officials agree with state auditor findings that spending $24,000 for unused hotel rooms and $15,000 for Tony Robbins seminar


By: Amy Dalrymple, The Forum

FARGO — North Dakota State University officials agree with state auditor findings that spending $24,000 for unused hotel rooms and $15,000 for Tony Robbins seminars was not a good use of taxpayer money.  An audit released Thursday cited several examples of expenses state auditors viewed as unnecessary or unreasonable uses of public funds.  Other examples included upgrades to first-class airfare, alcohol and bartending fees and an arrangement that auditors viewed as subsidizing the North Dakota Horse Park.

President Dean Bresciani said NDSU has already made several changes that would prevent these expenditures from happening again, including new guidelines for credit card use and expanding the role of the internal auditor.  “I think these were innocent mistakes, but also helpful illustrations as we move forward,” Bresciani said. “We’re not doing business like that anymore. We’re setting a higher expectation.”  The operational audit, which is routinely done by the Office of the State Auditor, covered fiscal years 2008 and 2009, before Bresciani was president.

These are some of the highlights from the audit and documents used to compile the audit:

- NDSU’s Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute sponsored a conference in Washington, D.C., in December 2008 that resulted in spending $24,385 for unused hotel rooms.  Tom Jirik, communications coordinator for the institute, said the organization hosted a similar conference related to trucking in 2007 that was successful.

But because of the economy in 2008, attendance dropped and NDSU had a contractual obligation to pay for the hotel rooms, Jirik said. Forty-six of the 100 rooms reserved were vacant, he said.  “Unfortunate circumstances intervened, and we came up with a shortfall,” he said.  Chris Brucks, the auditor in charge of the report, said NDSU could have worked out a clause in the contract to protect the university.  “It seems to be an issue of poor planning,” Brucks said.

- Two employees attended a Tony Robbins “Unleash the Power Within” motivational seminar in Los Angeles at a “diamond premiere” price of $2,595 per person rather than the general admission rate of $995 per person.   The employees were Steve Winfrey, director of the Memorial Union, and Chris Suriano, the union’s associate director of operations.  Brucks said he questioned how the more expensive registration benefited the university. The upgraded registration included expedited registration, early entry into the auditorium and seating closer to the front.

Janna Stoskopf, NDSU’s dean of student life, said she approved the training events but was not aware of the premiere registration until recently. Winfrey is reimbursing NDSU for the difference, she said.  Winfrey also attended the Tony Robbins Leadership Masters University event with a registration cost of $9,995.

Stoskopf said the training was over three separate time periods and was approached from a “train the trainer” perspective. About 1,200 students have benefited directly from Winfrey’s participation in the programs, she said.  “I recognize that it was a costly venture,” Stoskopf said. “But I wouldn’t have moved forward with something that we didn’t feel had the equivalent benefit back to the institution.”

The Memorial Union budget is partially funded through student activity fees.  Brucks said he thought the amounts, which did not include airfare, hotels or all meals, seemed excessive.  “It would seem to me there were probably other ways using less funds that could have gotten the same results,” Brucks said.

- The audit raises concerns that NDSU was subsidizing the North Dakota Horse Park.

Since 2003, NDSU subleased the Equine Center to Horse Race North Dakota each summer during the horse racing season. In fiscal year 2008, NDSU charged a rental price of $4,000 per month while the cost to NDSU was $30,137 a month.  In fiscal year 2009, NDSU charged $5,400 a month, while the cost to NDSU was $32,962 per month.

Brucks said NDSU did not consider operational costs when setting the lease rate. Brucks said he was told by Bruce Frantz, NDSU’s former director of facilities, that the lease rate was “pulled out of the air.”  Racing was not held at the horse park this past summer. If horse racing resumes in the future, NDSU would renegotiate the lease and consider the university’s expenses, said Bruce Bollinger, vice president for finance and administration.

- The audit questions employees who flew first class or business class three separate times, costing the university $19,845.

Two flights were for Ken Grafton, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources. The upgrade was approved by vice presidents D.C. Coston and Craig Schnell.  The third was for Elias Elias, a plant science professor, and approved by Coston. Brucks said the reason given to him for the upgrades was so the employees could be “well rested” for meetings.

- Virginia Clark Johnson, dean of the College of Human Development and Education, used a university credit card to pay for $746 in alcohol and bartender fees for a “Women in Deanship” conference in Denver.

NDSU policy states that state money should not pay for alcohol. Brucks said NDSU officials have said the university was reimbursed for that expense, but he asked for documentation, and they have not provided it. Clark Johnson did not return a call seeking comment.

The audit also found instances where employees did not follow policies for university credit card use. NDSU changed its policies in January 2009 to provide greater controls, which Brucks called a “drastic improvement.” NDSU officials have looked into each instance outlined in the audit and found that employees had good intentions but that some decisions were not well thought out, Bresciani said.

“If we want to have the public’s trust, we need to not only do the right thing but have it look like we’ve done the right thing,” he said.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are owned by Forum Communications Co.

From: http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/175028/

Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Unacceptable NDSU Audit Findings
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2010, 12:25:09 am »
Interesting post anonymous student.  Feel free to share any additional comments about your experiences at NDSU.

If you are looking for the full audit report take a look at http://www.nd.gov/auditor/reports/235_09.pdf
« Last Edit: September 11, 2010, 11:12:26 am by pmp6nl »
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Anonymous1

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Re: Unacceptable NDSU Audit Findings
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2010, 01:01:22 am »
Apparently the alcohol costs and fees have been repaid: http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/290793/

Still very unacceptable, this act should be punished.

Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: Unacceptable NDSU Audit Findings
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2010, 10:36:55 am »
I think the airplane ticket thing was more than just three tickets.  From the wording it sounds like they looked into the amount spent on all employees who individually traveled first or business class more than three times.  So if you have Bob, Sally, and John, and Bob flew coach all the time, Sally flew business class twice, and John flew first class three times, only John's tickets would count in that part of the audit.

I agree, the leadership events seem far too expensive.  If the Union employees would work with students rather than trying to lead them, things might turn out better.  This was evident when the director of student organizations at UND left a few years ago; when this person was there, this person was communicative, helpful, and genuinely seemed like helping students was the primary job at hand.  The two successors to this position have generally taken the "leadership" role, in which case they hand down directives for the student orgs to follow.

Regarding Horse Race North Dakota, I think I agree.  I looked it up since it sounded like maybe NDSU was helping out some club who helped kids race horses or something, but since it's just a group to let people gamble on horse races, I think they can afford the full costs for the summer.

These are examples of probable poor judgement when it comes to the finances of the University, but I also think there is more than just what was reported going on.  I wouldn't be especially quick to demonize these individuals, in case more information comes to light.
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Hardworking

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Re: Unacceptable NDSU Audit Findings
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2010, 12:12:59 pm »
In regard to the below snippet from The Forum - Janna Stoskopf - needs to be the next to go.  She not only originally blessed the expenditures, she defends the $9,995 expenditure still.  The buck needs to stop with her just as it did with t other key administrators who were made to resign.  Housecleaning is in order.

Sign me - Hardworking faculty member

Janna Stoskopf, NDSU’s dean of student life, said she approved the training events but was not aware of the premiere registration until recently. Winfrey is reimbursing NDSU for the difference, she said.  Winfrey also attended the Tony Robbins Leadership Masters University event with a registration cost of $9,995.

Stoskopf said the training was over three separate time periods and was approached from a “train the trainer” perspective. About 1,200 students have benefited directly from Winfrey’s participation in the programs, she said.  “I recognize that it was a costly venture,” Stoskopf said. “But I wouldn’t have moved forward with something that we didn’t feel had the equivalent benefit back to the institution.”

Offline Plantains

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Re: Unacceptable NDSU Audit Findings
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2010, 03:08:07 pm »
Higher education is one facet of the economy that for whatever reason has gone on for years increasing costs disproportionately and had little to no scrutiny from elected officials or the media.

Anyone that knows a damn thing about the higher education system in this country knows it's completely ridiculous. This whole topic highlights it well. Don't get me wrong, I think there are good things too, but "government" waste is government waste.

My #1 issue with it is, who is holding them accountable. No one. And it's a product that we're all led to believe that we NEED. So they say who cares, we can charge whatever the hell we want for anything. And no politician is going to cut funding here because they'd be against education.

It's very interesting to see however that our (lower?) education schools (high school and under) which are basically fully government are cutting out great amazing programs and teachers and funding etc. While the higher education arm seems to just be taking that money? It makes little sense why the government would think twice about buying new textbooks on history and then hand out money like this? Or why parents wouldn't be willing to pay higher school taxes but then send their children off to expensive (actually grossly overpriced) Universities?
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Offline Mike

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Re: Unacceptable NDSU Audit Findings
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2010, 06:58:03 pm »
I share the outrage of everyone has has posted.  I think it is important that we take action to make sure this does not happen again.  One thing that should be done is ending the University System's exemption from the state online spending database created in HB 1377 in the 2008 biennium (http://www.policynd.org/index.php?/site/article/ndpc_analysis_hb1377_-_searchable_database_of_state_expenditures/).  The University system's entire budget should be included including tax dollars, tuition, fees, donations grants, etc.  The costs are greatly overstated.  When the people are allowed to see exactly where their government is spending their money, public servants will be afraid of the consequences of wasting it.

 

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