University Diaries
A professor of English describes American university life.
Aim: To change things.
Contact UD at: margaret-dot-soltan-at-gmail-dot-com

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(Tenured Radical)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tales of the Tenurati

'A year after he was demoted for misspending, a former University of Wisconsin-Whitewater dean has kept a job as a professor but still owes the university $117,000, the school said Monday.

UW-Whitewater recently renewed its order that Howard Ross [Wow! He's still Dean on his university web page!] reimburse the school for money misspent on travel, technology, personal cell phone use and other items over several years, according to a letter released Monday.

... Ross was stripped of his duties as dean of the College of Letters and Sciences in April 2006 after an audit questioned $310,000 he spent on his university credit cards since 2000. The audit said the purchases were inappropriate or lacked documentation.

Ross has remained a tenured professor of philosophy and religious studies. His salary increased last month to $71,365 per year.

In September, the university ordered Ross to pay back $113,000 after he justified some of the expenses questioned in the audit. The university said at the time it would further reduce the amount owed if he found additional documentation.

But Ross failed to do so, according to the letter vice chancellor Randy Marnocha and Provost Richard Telfer sent him April 6. In fact, the officials said they discovered additional misspending that increased the total he owed by about $4,000.

The university released the letter Monday in response to an open records request. Ross owes money for travel, technology purchases, personal cell phone charges and even a subscription to an Internet dating site, the letter said.

University spokeswoman Sara Kuhl acknowledged the case has slowly unfolded to give Ross time to justify his spending.

"We're trying to be as fair as possible and these things take time," she said. "We would certainly hope that Dr. Ross would make arrangements to pay the money back."

The university may take additional legal steps, including garnisheeing his paycheck, if he refuses, she said.

Meanwhile, Kuhl said a campuswide audit of credit card use ordered by Chancellor Martha Saunders after the demotions of Ross and another former dean, Lee Jones, was still not finished.

She cited staff turnover as the reason for the delay of the report, which Saunders had hoped to finish last summer.

Ross declined comment but [Ross's lawyer] said his client did not owe the university a dime.'