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If you let them steal from the state long enough…

… they’ll end up ordering groceries.

The much-lauded founder and head of Henderson State University’s ESL program has been helping herself to state grant money for so long that she’s gotten sloppy. Along with buying stuff that one might argue had some connection to language instruction (a vast array of cameras…?), she began using the money for the odd olive oil or steam cleaner shortage in her household. Here’s a list, courtesy of state auditors, of some of what she bought. Let’s try to make sense of it.

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.

Okay… I’m seeing the olive oil used to, you know, oil the camera equipment… And who hasn’t needed to steam clean her luggage set? … But then there’s the question of the luggage set itself…

To lug all the equipment from the language lab to the director’s house?

But wait. There’s more. Found in the language lab itself were:

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

Okay, not a problem. Batteries were obviously for the pedometers, and the pedometers… Well, this was probably a result of a linguistic misunderstanding on the part of the director herself. Ped-agogy… ped-ometer… It is possible she was under the apprehension that this machine measured teaching output…

Shirts and umbrellas no problem: For a rainy day (UD is providing these line item justifications free of charge to the director’s legal team, by the way), of which there are tons in Arkansas.


$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

Okay start with the easy stuff. What modern housewife doesn’t need an oven and dishwasher at her place of work? It’s not like cleaning clothes and cooking stops at the ESL door! Are you going to pillory this woman for being as keen on domesticity as she is on having a career?

So let’s finish it out: Stamp collection; universal human need for sustenance; more batteries for the pedometer; you can never have enough ink and toner; and you’ll need to itemize those “other office supplies” before I can respond to them.

Margaret Soltan, December 17, 2014 11:44AM
Posted in: professors

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9 Responses to “If you let them steal from the state long enough…”

  1. Greg Says:

    Love the lists. On the 364th day of Xmas my employer gave to me: e.v.o.o., “Beats by Dre Headphones” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and camcorder with batteries.

  2. Alan Allport Says:

    308 shirts?

    Even God doesn’t have 308 shirts.

  3. adam Says:

    No, but Imelda Marcos did, and then some – not to mention her shoes. Kindred spirits…

  4. Contingent Cassandra Says:

    Maybe the shirts and umbrellas (and pedometers) were some sort of imprinted publicity giveaway-type merchandise?

    Olive oil + stove + dishwasher: intercultural communication via food, and cleanup thereafter? (this assuming said items landed on campus, not in her home)

    Beyond that, you got me. Even for understandable items (binder/paper clips) numbers seem excessive. One has to suspect some pathology and kickbacks played a role.

    I imagine it’s not always easy to be a proponent of ESL teaching in Arkansas, but that’s hardly an excuse for milking a program that supports ESL teaching for one’s own personal gain (in fact, it’s a pretty good reason, if you need a reason beyond the usual ones, not to).

  5. Contingent Cassandra Says:

    *and/or kickbacks

  6. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Contingent Cassandra: I think you’re especially right about the pathology. It’s all too weird for mere greed.

  7. Polish Peter Says:

    The real tipoff is the $39K for ink and toner. That’s industrial-scale copying, with a bank of machines running day and night. If the pedometers and unbrellas are imprint merchandise (these are common giveaways), the question is why does a service academic unit have to promote itself this way?

  8. Jack/OH Says:

    Contingent, I think the report says the shirts and what-not were purchases, and not branded promo goods. I want to go with some pathology, an acting-out behavior, but the mikes and cameras coupled with hubby’s media business look like willfulness.

    But, how long does it take an auditor to raise a reasonable, within-your-purview question? What else is going on?

  9. theprofessor Says:

    Polish Peter is right–name-brand toner cartridges @$100/ea, and we’re looking at 2,000,000 pages of copying. Even with all-color printing, that’s 800,000+ copies.

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