Talking about Corruption

It’s not just football that wastes money — tho Rutgers football is no slouch. It goes through millions yearly with no apparent return other than a team vaunted for its mediocrity.

Trouble is, the whole university is a cash sieve.

The State Commission of Investigation — in its thorough report on higher education in New Jersey — documents that budgeting at Rutgers lacks transparency, flagrantly breaks rules, and indulges in cronyism.

For instance the Commission explicitly chides Rutgers for: “Questionable and undocumented travel, business and entertainment expenditures and structural impediments to budgetary accountability, oversight and transparency at Rutgers University.” (Page 2.)

It further notes (Page 6): “Lack of transparency and delays in fully responding to requests for data and information were notably acute at Rutgers University.”

In many respects, the Commission (on Page 30) describes accounting systems that seem downright Dickensian: “In areas particularly vulnerable to abuse, such as reimbursements for staff travel and entertainment, such records are based on paper and, are not electronically retrievable for review. The university does not even maintain an electronic database delineating its substantial real-estate
holdings, the date of their acquisition or the amounts and sources of funding involved in their purchase.”

The plot turns thick and ironic when the Commission documents that Kavanaugh Organization Planning was retained to clean up some of the bookkeeping mess — paid $126,000 plus $13,000 in expenses — and it recommended hiring a vice president for administrative affairs. And so Karen Kavanaugh, wife of the owner of KOP, was hired…and, lord do you believe in miracles, this very same Karen Kavanaugh had worked at the University of Washington as vice president of human resources…just when Dick McCormick was president there.

You have to read this surreal stuff yourself (Pages 31-33).

Kavanaugh was summarily appointed. Ask and it will be done in New Brunswick. Kavanaugh eventually left her post but she did pretty well. “In all, Kavanagh received more than $1 million in compensation, apart from the payments to her husband’s consulting firm, during the approximately three years of her personal employment association with Rutgers.” (Page 41.)

The Commission report goes on and on.

Our advice to students: when you are asked to pay yet more in tuition next year — and you will be — tear out some pages from the Commission’s report and indicate that you’d like comparable treatment.

Apparently Dick McCormick never says “no,” why should he start with you?

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4 Responses to Talking about Corruption

  1. Adrian Barr says:

    I do wonder why this isn’t thusfar a bigger scandal…

  2. John Lister says:

    I was cleaning up my old e-mails and found one from McCormick announcing the release of the report. It contained this paragraph:

    At the same time, we have serious concerns about the secretive nature of the investigation and about critical omissions in the report. It is particularly disappointing that Rutgers was not given an opportunity to review the major substantive sections relating to Rutgers and correct any inaccuracies before its public release. The report barely mentions that long before the investigation began, Rutgers had launched a series of initiatives to ensure that all units of the university manage the public’s resources wisely and accountably. The report also largely fails to acknowledge the critical role that reduced state funding has played in reductions in administrative staffing or in the delay of the full implementation of much-needed computerized administrative systems.

    Ironic, isn’t it, considering the secretive nature of the stadium expansion project, where we still don’t have full information!

  3. John.G says:

    Ironic only begins to describe it…

  4. Rich B says:

    The football team makes money for the University it is just that revenues are not accurately attributed to the real source. Why did applications go up drastically? Football team success. Why have donations gone up drastically? football team success. Why did licensing revenue go up drastically? football team success. But none of these things go into the equation but the reality is that it should. I think there could be an honest debate on some of the issues that Rutgers 1000 brings up, but they are too emotional involved and out of touch with the Rutgers community that they can’t see the other side. I think they could have some valuable points to make, and make the system better for the University, but I don’t think their concern is for the student/athlete, but with themselves. There are some very good academic schools in the Northeast that play Division 3 sports, and there are some very good academic schools that play big time Division 1 sports. No one has a gun to the teachers or students heads to attend/work at Rutgers.

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