University Department Focus of Audit, Criminal Investigation

ARKADELPHIA, AR – A department within Henderson State University (HSU) is the focus of a Division of Legislative Audit (DLA) investigation report Tuesday (12/16).

Those in charge of the department at the time are now under a criminal investigation by a State Prosecutor.

The Clark County Prosecutor confirmed the ongoing investigation to determine if any criminal charges will be filed as a result of conduct laid out in the legislative audit.

Dr. Glen Jones, University President, says they feel completely embarrassed that they would waste State resources at this level.

He’s the one however, that asked for an outside investigation when he received a complaint about HSU’s Center for Language Proficiency (Center).

The first investigation was conducted by an independent auditor but was followed by the DLA.

The DLA report outlines more than $100,000 worth of questionable expenditures within the Center, which houses HSU’s English as a Second Language Graduate Academy for instructors and Intensive English Program for college students.

The audit determined dozens of media related equipment purchases were made.

Dr. Jones says he’s wondered why it wasn’t caught sooner.

“There are clearly items on that list I would have a hard time saying are appropriate for that program,” he explained.

The audit lists dozens of items that were purchased but were not found on campus.

That list included:

Microphones and stands
Camera Lenses
Digital Mixers
Three piece luggage set

Nikon Camera
Vizeo Video monitor
Hitachi projector
Beats by Dre headphones
Two containers of olive oil
shark portable steamer

The audit pointed out that these items were stored at the Center Director’s house. The audit also points out the Director’s husband happens to run a multimedia company.

The purchases didn’t end there however, as the the investigation found dozens of unused equipment items and excessive supplies on-hand on campus.

That list included :

635 boxes of paper/binder clips
470 batteries
308 shirts
105 umbrellas
48 pedometers
14 electric pencil sharpeners

Questionable expenditures were pointed out by the audit as well. Those included:

$990 in stamps, although Center mail is processed through the HSU campus post office
$3,071 for a new oven and dishwasher
$39,475 for ink and toner
$30,100 for snacks
$2, 692 for batteries
$42,278 for other office supplies

Dr. Jones points out that while the investigation’s results weren’t ideal, that was the point of the investigation.

He said, “As embarrassing as that is it’s exactly what we wanted to understand what was taking place.”

According to the report HSU did not renew the Director’s contract and the Assistant Director resigned. Both ended their employment in October.

Still, the audit report stated a lack of HSU oversight regarding the Center’s use of grant funds.

In 2014 the Center received $775,000 from a State English Language Learners grant for the ESL Academy in addition to more than $130,000 in tuition.

Dr. Jones laid out extensive steps they are taking to prevent this from happening in the future.

He said, “We believe that our systems did fail us in some areas. But more importantly we believe that we have the appropriate controls in place moving forward and we’ve taken the necessary corrective action to protect the resources of the State of Arkansas while at the same time maintaining the overall integrity of the institution.”

He says the University has closed the Center down and moved its activities to another core department.

They have also implemented an overview of all of University control systems which started Monday and will go through the first of the year, conducted by an external auditing firm.

Dr. Jones says they will have an annual inventory review to make sure that all of the things purchased can be appropriately accounted for.

The complete Investigative Report, which includes the University’s and Arkansas Department of Education’s response, is attached.

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