Much has been said and written about the University of the District of Columbia, its president, Robert L. Green, and, to a lesser extent, its chairman and board of trustees. Some has been fair comment about a public institution and its officials, some has been heavy-handed and unnecessary, and some has been no less than vicious and deliberately destructive.
The president has been mercilessly attacked for his management of university discretionary funds. The chairman has come under criticism because he is evidently perceived by some solely as a defender of the president. Through this entire public discussion, there has been more heat than light, more half-truth and rumor than fact. The board has attempted to act in a responsible way to separate fact from fiction so that its actions would be rational, appropriate and in the best interests of the university.
The board is the university's policy-making body; we are not administrators involved in the day-to-day operation of the university, nor should we be. The board meets approximately six times a year, with standing committees meeting monthly; we are not salaried (a nominal stipend is authorized), and we receive no "perks" of office. We are volunteers, and most of us serve at great personal sacrifice. Nonetheless, our role is important.
Most would agree that selecting a president and assuring the fiscal integrity of the university are two of our most crucial functions. The selection of a president is a process that we have had to undertake too often in recent years at an institution desperately in need of administrative stability. Robert L. Green was unanimously chosen by the board to lead the university after an extensive nationwide search just over two years ago. We hired him because we believed that he possessed the requisite skills to lead this diverse and complex institution which is our city's only public university.
There is no doubt that Green has made some mistakes of judgment. He has admitted those errors identified in audit reports, apologized for them, reimbursed the university where appropriate and sought board support for his continued leadership of the university. The board is now carefully reviewing all the data so that we, along with the president, might make an informed, rational judgment on how best to respond to the present crisis of confidence.
On the issue of fiscal integrity, let me be clear: no individual or body is more concerned about or committed to the fiscal integrity and credibility of the university than the board of trustees. In each year since the university's inception nine years ago we have received "unqualified" or, in lay language, "clean" audit reports from our outside auditors on all our funds.
In view of all which has been spoken and written of late, the public might rightfully ask why UDC has been so difficult to manage and so hard to stabilize. Those of us familiar with this institution can only remind the public that UDC was born of three disparate competing colleges, each with different perceived missions, educational philosophies, goals and staffs. Although much has been accomplished in the area of unification, many of those early divisions and tensions remain. Leadership of this institution is complicated by an incredible level of scrutiny from Congress, the Disrict government, both legislative and executive, and the public, to say nothing of the constantly peering eyes of the media. Notwithstanding all of this, remarkable progress has been made toward creating a first-rate public university. Even during this latest crisis a dedicated faculty committed to teaching and energetic students committed to learning have been about their business.
We are dedicated to seeing this progtinue and to assuring public confidence. In that regard, we have over the past 60 days: appointed an ad hoc board committee on university management; engaged an internationally respected accounting firm to fully audit university discretionary accounts; implemented a system of 100 percent pre-and post-audits of all transactions in all accounts; adopted a series of recommendations proposed by the D.C. Auditor and our independent auditors; established a requirement for bi-monthly reports to the board for discretionary account transactions; and centralized review of expenditures by the president's office.
The difficult decisions to be made in the weeks ahead are not decisions for the auditors, District government officials or the media; they are decisions for the board -- and the board will make them. We will make them in a deliberate and prudent way based on the facts before us, always keeping the best long-term interests of the university as our principal focus. We understand our responsibility. We will do our job. Let us do it in an atmosphere where basic fairness and reason can prevail. We are committed to the continued growth and development of a university in which all of the District's citizens can be proud.