The eight deans of the University of the District of Columbia have signed a memo urging UDC President Robert L. Green and three of his top aides to step aside pending the outcome of inquiries into Green's spending practices, according to a copy of the memo obtained yesterday by The Washington Post.
In the two-page memo delivered to board Chairman Ronald H. Brown yesterday, the deans asked that Green, Vice President Dwight Cropp, Provost Maxie C. Jackson and Assistant Vice President W. Louis Stone "be relieved of their responsibilities" until the controversy is resolved.
Meanwhile, Mayor Marion Barry described Green's situation as "a personal tragedy" and predicted that "something will come to a head very soon." Barry refused to say whether he thought Green should resign but sharply criticized the board of trustees for what he called lax financial oversight and accused D.C. Auditor Otis H. Troupe of leaking information about UDC to the news media.
"I believe the board of trustees needs to move expeditiously to resolve this matter," said Barry, who plans to meet with board members today or tomorrow to press for action. "I think what is happening now is a personal tragedy for the university, a personal tragedy for Bob Green and a personal tragedy for some of the members of the board of trustees."
Barry's call for a quick resolution to the controversy, during his monthly press conference yesterday, coincided with growing dissatisfaction among the 15 UDC trustees, the UDC deans and alumni over allegations that Green has misspent thousands of dollars of university funds on personal travel, catering and consultants. Troupe, in his final audit of the president's representation fund, said Green should repay the university $13,000.
Green has told some university officials that audits now in progress will show that his wife Lettie traveled to Africa within the past year at university expense and that Green billed UDC for more than $2,000 in fees and membership dues at the Bethesda Racquet and Health Club, according to sources.
Gilbert Maddox, a spokesman for Green, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Green has repeatedly declined to be interviewed by The Post about the controversy.
Stone and Jackson are former colleagues of Green at Michigan State University, where he served as dean before becoming UDC president in September 1983. Cropp is a longtime District government employe who became a UDC vice president about six months after Green took office.
Barry, in his first public comments about the UDC controversy, repeatedly deflected reporters' questions about whether Green should resign, saying that "that's a board decision to make."
However, he harshly criticized the trustees' finance and audit committee, which is responsible for overseeing university fiscal practices, and said the committee "has not been as vigilant as it should have been."
The mayor said UDC's postsecondary education fund, comprised of university fees, gifts and endowment revenues, had never been formally audited before Troupe undertook such an audit less than a month ago. He also said that the university earlier this year refused to provide D.C. Budget Director Betsy Reveal with records of expenditures from the postsecondary fund.
"I think that was a dereliction on the part of the finance and audit committee," said Barry, who has the authority to appoint 11 of the 15 members of the board of trustees.
Trustee Donald A. Brown, a Washington developer and member of the committee, said there are routine annual audits of the university budget by an internal auditor, two major accounting firms and the D.C. auditor. Another university official said that in the past the auditors have never singled out the postsecondary fund for detailed review.
"The finance committee did a pretty darn good job in view of the stonewalling and deceptions by Green's administration which are only now coming to light," Donald Brown said.
"The mayor would do well to remain silent and stand back and let the members of the committee that he appointed do their jobs," he said. "Then we will all be able to determine what surely now appears to be some gross misuse of funds."
Donald Brown, who earlier this week called on Green to step aside, said it was "in poor taste" for the mayor to use a "smokescreen in criticizing the finance committee, which has never misspent one dollar of public money, while uttering no criticisms for his compatriot, the president of UDC, whose administration appears to have withheld information from the finance committee and stonewalled the press."
In criticizing Troupe, the auditor, for allegedly leaking documents to the press, Barry compared Troupe's office unfavorably to Coopers & Lybrand, a national accounting firm hired by the UDC trustees to perform its own audits of university expenditures.
"If I have to choose between the D.C. auditor and Coopers & Lybrand I would choose Coopers & Lybrand," he said.
Troupe yesterday denied that he leaked the contents of his draft audit of Green's expenditures and pointed out that press reports about the draft audit only appeared after the report was released to members of the board of trustees and other university officials.
"I would point out that Coopers & Lybrand has a rather large contract with the District of Columbia over which the mayor has control," said Troupe, who is appointed by the D.C. City Council chairman. "He would be more inclined to believe a firm over which he exercises such control."
The mayor's entrance into the fray followed a report in The Post yesterday describing Green's use of university funds to pay for hotel bills and trips for a longtime associate from Michigan, Cassandra A. Simmons, and to buy Mother's Day flowers for his wife.
Simmons, a former student of Green at Michigan State University who has received $37,200 in consulting fees from UDC during Green's tenure, traveled twice to Boston with Green at the university's expense, according to UDC records released to The Post earlier this week.
Several high-ranking UDC administrators and trustees said yesterday they were disturbed by the latest disclosures, which were contained in documents that Troupe and Coopers & Lybrand had previously examined.
Barry blamed part of the controversy on the trustees' approval of what he termed excessive budgets for Green, which included $114,000 for operation and maintenance of the president's official residence.
Barry said the five-year contract the board signed with Green was "one of the best contracts of any university president in America."
"I'd like to have that kind of contract," Barry said.
Green receives a $74,900 salary, a university car and the use of an official residence in Northwest Washington with two housekeepers as part of his contract. Although it is not included in his contract, Green has a full-time chauffeur who is paid $22,000 a year.