Saturday, October 25, 2008

What we can learn from the U of L debacle

On Thursday, former University of Louisville Education Dean Robert Felner pled not guilty to stealing millions from U of L and University of Rhode Island. According to the Louisville-Courier Journal, Felner was indicted with 10 counts of mail fraud, money-laundering, conspiracy and income-tax evasion. The indictment charged Felner with " fraudulently obtaining nearly $2.3 million in grant money from University of Louisville and University of Rhode Island." Now that's a lot of dough.

It seems that university officials are always complaining that they don't have enough money. Now we understand why.

When $2.3 million goes missing from two universities unnoticed, it makes one wonder what other areas are being mismanaged. Apparently University of Rhode Island didn't miss the $1.7 million that Felner used to lavish on himself. In fact, they were "shocked" to learn he embezzled so much. Neither did it seem that U of L missed the $576,000 that was supposed to be spent on education.

The real lesson here is that university budgets could probably be cut a whole lot more without sacrificing the education that's supposed to be going on in the classroom. It is time to shine the light on our universities, their programs and how billions of our tax money is being spent. It's past time for university presidents to take responsibility and to stop passing the buck. As the U of L debacle clearly demonstrates, when university leaders are irresponsible, the buck may end up in the hands of thieves.

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