“Broken culture,” improper spending, embarrassment, at University of Central FL

CFE arena
University of Central Florida CFE arena. Credit: UCF

The University of Central Florida is under fire after an investigative report revealed tens of millions in improper spending for construction projects, the News Service of Florida reports.

UCF President Dale Whittaker acknowledged a “broken culture” at the Orlando-based university, and has said he’ll terminate four members of the school’s finance and administration division.

At issue is the use of operating funds for construction projects, according to the News Service of Florida. The investigative report revealed:

  • UCF’s use of $38 million in operating funds to build the 137,000-square-foot Trevor Colbourn Hall.
  • A total of $84.7 million in state operating funds used or slated to be used by UCF for construction projects, in direct violation of state policy.

UCF has since replaced the misspent $52 million in operating funds the school used for construction with proper funding, according to the News Service of Florida.

“This is about more than one building. We understand the scope of what happened, we accept responsibility for it and, frankly, we’re embarrassed by it,” Whittaker said in a message to students, faculty and UCF supporters, according to the news story.

UCF trustees will continue their review of the report on Thursday.  Florida’s Board of Governors, which oversees the 12 state universities, is expected to take up the issue later this month. And the Florida Legislature is taking a hard look as well, with three House committees reviewing various aspects of UCF’s misuse of state funding.

 

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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