The D.C. Auditor is looking into financial management and controls at the University of the District of Columbia, as well as at UDC President Robert L. Green's considerable travel expenses -- and judging from what is known so far, there are ample grounds for a thorough review. As an account by Post reporter Alison Muscatine has revealed, Dr. Green has charged UDC, which is publicly financed, for at least 32 trips since he took office less than two years ago. Included were trips to attend funerals in Michigan and Texas and a wedding in Seattle. Students, faculty and other longtime supporters of the university, many of whom have had to cope with budget limitations, are understandably among the most upset.
In an interview with reporter Muscatine, Dr. Green defended all but one of these and other travel expenses, which included nine trips by his wife, several first-class air tickets and one trip to Atlanta during which he stayed in a $260-a-night hotel room. They were work-related, he said, though he acknowledged that last August he and his wife stopped for two days in Seattle to attend a wedding, on their way to Atlanta, where they attended a gathering of a fraternal organization to which Dr. Green belongs.
There have been no findings released yet by the D.C. auditor and -- it should emphasized -- no charges whatever against anyone. But clearly the UDC community, the city government and local taxpayers have a direct and keen interest in the process by which money is monitored and spent by the president or any other representative of the university. Even a discretionary fund is supposed to involve discretion; there are essentials and excesses -- and somewhere in the university, there should be people making these distinctions and controlling spending polies. What about the board of trustees? Given the financial constraints on such things as books for students, doesn't somebody at least frown on luxury-hotel rooms and trips that are not explained on travel-expense forms?
UDC deserves support as an important educational institution -- the only one of its kind in the District, answering serious and special needs in productive ways; and as such it can and should demand that every dollar be spent as productively as possible. Without such controls, confidence in the university, from within and elsewhere, is easily eroded -- and that would be bad for everyone.