The school year began yesterday at the University of the District of Columbia with students expressing mixed emotions about the resignation last week of President Robert L. Green and administrators scrambling to get the university on course after a three-month controversy over Green's spending of UDC funds.
"I am concerned about all of the allegations," said a junior biology major as she sat on the main plaza of the Van Ness campus. "I want to find out the truth about it. I think it's sad. A lot of people go by a college's reputation."
While the campus was bustling with students who seemed preoccupied with registration and course schedules, interim President Claude A. Ford, who was appointed by the board of trustees Friday, spent the day in continuous meetings with top administrators, deans and faculty leaders.
Ford, a UDC vice president who served as interim president in 1983 when Green's predecessor, Benjamin Alexander, resigned after 10 months on the job, said he was trying "to pull together all the thoughts of various groups" on campus.
"I'm trying to see where we can come together with a common thread and move forward in the next 60 days," he said.
Green resigned under pressure Friday following disclosures by the news media and D.C. Auditor Otis H. Troupe that he had spent thousands of dollars of university funds for travel, entertainment, consulting contracts for friends and other personal items.
Yesterday Troupe issued a report showing that Green had used $2,199 from his official representation fund to pay for a personal trip by his wife Lettie to Africa in January. Troupe said Robert Green should repay the cost of the trip, including a $200 extra charge to his wife for staying in a single room instead of a double room in Nairobi.
In the seven-page report, Troupe disputed Robert Green's claim that he was justified in using UDC funds for Lettie Green's trip because she went to Africa as "a representative of UDC." Troupe said Lettie Green was not on official business when she traveled to Kenya for 10 days at the invitation of the African-American Institute. Under the terms of Robert Green's contract, the university was to pay for some of his wife's travel when she accompanied him on official business trips.
Student government leaders, who had been among Green's strongest defenders, said that Green was deposed by the trustees unfairly and that his departure will hurt the university.
"We do need a president we can keep," said Gordon Alston, one of the leaders. "The answer is not to push him out because he had a few problems. Most managers have budget problems."
"If we have a different president all the time we'll never get off the ground," said Michael Case, another leader.
Ronnell White, a junior, said Green will be missed because he had made himself accessible to students and frequently walked across campus chatting with students.
Other students seemed almost indifferent to the departure of UDC's third president in eight years. Sophomores Derrick Coleman and Anthony Suber, who sat in the shade reviewing their course schedules, said Green's resignation and the controversy engulfing UDC had little impact on them.
"I haven't paid too much attention to it," said Coleman, a computer science major. "It's not affecting us too much."
The fate of Green's top appointees remained unclear. An ad hoc committee consisting of five UDC trustees -- Chairman Ronald H. Brown, Lorraine Whitlock, Lucy Cohen, N. Joyce Payne and F.D.R. Fox -- is expected to review the contracts of all senior personnel, according to trustees interviewed during the weekend.
The university's eight deans have asked that Provost Maxie C. Jackson, Vice President Dwight S. Cropp and budget director W. Louis Stone be placed on administrative leave.
UDC sources said yesterday that Jackson and Stone, who are former colleagues of Green's at Michigan State University, have told senior administrators that they want to stay at UDC. Jackson and Stone received lucrative consulting contracts from Green before taking permanent jobs at UDC. Two other Green appointees, Chester A. Higgins and Gilbert A. Maddox, have temporary positions at UDC.
Sources said the status of Green's appointees may depend on the outcome of an investigation by the FBI and audits being conducted by Troupe's office and Coopers & Lybrand, a national accounting firm retained by the trustees.
Coopers & Lybrand has submitted to the trustees some preliminary findings from its audit of the university's postsecondary education account, which consists of university fees, private donations and some interest revenue from the university's endowment. Troupe is also reviewing that account.
University sources said last week that the audits will show that Green used funds from the postsecondary education account to finance additional trips and hotel bills for one of his primary consultants, longtime associate Cassandra A. Simmons; a trip by a relative from Michigan; and a trip that Green and his wife took to a tennis resort in Florida.
Simmons, who received $37,200 in consulting fees from Green's administration, is a former student of Green's at Michigan State. Green was a dean at Michigan State prior to becoming UDC's president in September 1983.
Troupe has called on Green to repay more than $15,000 of university funds that Troupe said were misspent. However, as part of the settlement reached by the trustees and Green Friday, each side agreed to waive "any future claims" against the other.
The settlement, which a solemn Green signed at his official residence in Northwest Washington with his wife and two sons looking on, entitles him to his $74,900 salary and health and retirement benefits for one year. The health and retirement benefits have monetary value of about $100,000, according to trustees. Green and his family are permitted to remain in the residence for 90 days, according to the terms of the settlement.
A trustee interviewed during the weekend said that Green seemed "detached from reality" during the final weeks of his presidency. Green became intransigent when confronted with the possibility that he might be forced to resign, according to university sources, and he did not acquiesce until the day before the board met in emergency session and forced him out.