An executive committee of trustees of the University of the District of Columbia gave a vote of confidence to President Robert L. Green last night after reviewing an independent accounting firm's report that found "no evidence of misconduct, no personal benefit and no act of dishonesty" on Green's part, according to the trustees' chairman.
Board of trustees Chairman Ronald H. Brown, who issued a statement to reporters after a four-hour closed meeting, said the board found "some instances of misjudgment" by Green, but that the president had dealt with those problems by reimbursing the university.
"The Board of trustees reaffirms its continued support for the president," said Brown, who refused to answer questions about the meeting.
The 15-member board of trustees also reviewed a long-awaited report from Green that said that while he had made some mistakes as chief executive, he did not intentionally misspend university funds or "abuse any resources at my disposal."
Several trustees said Green's report lacked sufficient documentation to prove Green's innocence and that they were not prepared to accept it until they see more of Green's records. "I am very dissatisfied with it," said one trustee who asked not to be named.
The reports by Green and by the accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand were prepared in response to news reports of Green's expenditures since taking office in September 1983 and assertions by D.C. Auditor Otis H. Troupe that Green had misspent $14,600 from his discretionary representation fund on travel, consultants and flowers for personal use.
The Coopers & Lybrand report, an audit of the representation fund, was not made public by the trustees. The Washington Post, under the D.C. Freedom of Information Act, requested records of the representation fund in April, but UDC officials have refused to release them. The Post filed suit against UDC last month seeking release of the records.
The commmittee that voted to back Green consists of seven trustees who are chairmen of the board's standing committees.
Trustee Joseph Webb, who is not a member of the executive committee, has sharply criticized Green and expressed disappointment in the trustees' action last night.
"In my opinion, Dr. Green should resign, but that is not the board's position," Webb said. "The board did what I expected it to do."
Green's 45-page report was his first official response to the controversy over his spending.
Green acknowledged in the report that he mistakenly billed the university for one trip to Seattle and for flowers sent to personal friends. He also said he and his wife Lettie were wrong to have claimed exemption from paying $147 in sales tax on personal purchases and that he had "erred" by not requiring competitive bidding in awarding a number of consulting contracts.
But he disputed one of Troupe's major findings -- that Green had double-billed the university for trips to Boston and Detroit -- and said that thousands of dollars of charges for other trips, entertainment, household furnishings and consultants who are his former colleagues at Michigan State University were justifiable expenditures.
Green attributed his mistakes to his failure to quickly learn the details of UDC and city financial and management procedures upon becoming president in September 1983 and for assuming that "certain things in the academic world were standard."
"In the absence of that orientation, I made good decisions but also some mistakes were made," Green said in a lengthy introduction to the report. "I was impatient to get started, to move the university forward . . . . "
Webb, who released copies of the report to reporters yesterday, said, "It should win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction."
Green's supporters have sharply criticized Troupe and argued that his draft report on UDC expenditures was politically inspired. Green's report contends that Troupe refused to delete a section of his audit alleging that Green had double-billed the university for a trip to Detroit in November 1983 and one to Boston in May 1984, despite being shown documents to the contrary.
According to Green's report, Troupe received documents from UDC several hours before his deadline for completing the draft audit. Green said he telephoned Troupe to tell him that documentation had been found but that Troupe "reponded that it was too late to change the draft report and that the change could be made in the final version."
"The D.C. auditor published this information with a reckless disregard for the truth," Green said in the report.
Troupe declined yesterday to comment on Green's report.
Troupe raised questions in his audit about extensive travel by Green. In his response, Green cited 24 trips he has taken since becoming president, including six trips to recruit colleagues for UDC and do research, 16 trips to attend conferences and association meetings and two trips to attend funerals. His wife accompanied him on 13 of those trips, the report said.
According to UDC documents released to The Washington Post, Green has traveled 32 times since taking office.
"Probably no group of executives in America travels more extensively than university presidents," Green's report said. Green said travel was necessary to promote UDC and to raise money, including $405,000 he said he had raised for the school since taking office.
Green also defended a trip to Lansing, Mich., in May to attend the funeral of Rick Rapaport, a 31-year-old former student at Michigan State who was on the UDC payroll for nine months last year as an urban research specialist.
Green said he also billed the university for a trip to Houston to attend his wife's grandmother's funeral because he had arranged to meet during his stay with David Gottlieb, a professor at the University of Houston whom he was trying to recruit. A storm prevented the two men from meeting, according to the report, but they held a lengthy discussion by telephone.
Green said he was justified in spending $260 a night for a hotel at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta last January because no other hotel room was available.
He also took issue with questions raised in Troupe's report about an "unidentified" woman whose Washington hotel bill was charged to Green's American Express card and was paid for, along with her air fare, with UDC funds.
The report said that the woman, Marva Thomas, was being recruited from Michigan State and that she flew here in December 1983 to discuss details of a job at UDC. She did not have a credit card that the hotel would accept, the report stated, so a relative of Green's who was escorting Thomas used his credit card to pay for her bill.
Thomas is now a UDC staff assistant earning $30,195 a year, according to school records.
Green defended his expenditures for household items and entertainment and said they had been exaggerated in the press and were legitimate.
The Post obtained documents from UDC showing that Green had billed the university for $83,200 for catering and nearly $18,000 for small household items.
Green's report said that his office paid for many receptions held by other university agencies that should not be counted as costs he incurred at UDC. Green's office spent only $23,243 for 19 receptions that he actually hosted, the report said.
Green's report said that the university spent nearly $70,000 on furniture for the president's residence prior to his arrival and that a total of $34,576 in furniture, furnishings and appliances were purchased since he took office.
Troupe's report also claimed that Green had spent $2,221 on flowers and that about $695 had been for purchases of flowers for his wife, sons, and personal acquaintances.
Green admitted that "some of my personal expressions inadvertently became mixed in with the costs for floral pieces," and that he had written a check to reimburse UDC for those charges.
Green's report does not specifically respond to Troupe's assertion that he hired five consultants without contracts who produced no work but received a total of $3,619 in fees from the president's representation fund, a discretionary account.
Green said there is no rule against using money from his representation fund for consultants and that all of those hired "were highly qualified, with long experience."
Green listed nine consultants he had hired from Michigan, including five who were former colleagues whom he hoped to recruit for UDC.
He conceded that in two cases he awarded contracts improperly and without competitive bidding to Maxie C. Jackson and W. Louis Stone, former Michigan State colleagues who have been hired as high-ranking UDC officials.
Green's report said Jackson, now the UDC provost earning $71,000 annually while on a year's leave without pay from the Michigan State faculty, received $15,327 in consulting fees, and that Stone, now a UDC vice president, received $13,657 in fees.