Last week, the university’s general counsel completed its investigation of Chief Financial Officer Teresa Hardee.
The investigation was born from an anonymous complaint. It dealt with her apparent misuse of university time and discrepancies in her annual leave while she took courses toward an executive doctorate degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
“It is known that VP Teresa Hardee has been working on her Ph.D. at an out of town university, and to date, there has been no recorded leave for days absent. This is a blatant violation of university policies,” read the unsigned letter.
For her purposeful misuse of time, apparently in which, she, her-then fiancé, and sister, all conspired, President Ammons reduced Hardee’s annual leave time to 34.22 hours. This was a “slap-on-the-hand,” compared to the General Counsel’s recommendation of 50 hours and a three-day suspension. She also received non-disciplinary action. Ammons’ indifferent response to the General Counsel’s investigation was a “slap in-the-face” to the university community.
“This complaint is a new challenge for me. Throughout my career, my integrity has never been questioned,” said Hardee in an email. “The university has a duty to determine if there is any merit to allegations, whether they are attributed or not.”
Some administrators who work in the “ivory towers,” otherwise known as Lee Hall, and Foote-Hilyer, may think the general counsel’s findings on Hardee are just a minor infraction. Unfortunately, for the campus’ peons: faculty, low-level staff, students, and supporters; they are missing the big, rather ugly picture.
This picture is a grotesque image of cronyism…the same cronyism that bought the university to its knees before Hardee’s boss, Ammons, arrived on the campus in June 2007. But even while Ammons was an administrator for almost 20 years before he left for North Carolina Central University, his colleagues were always partial to their long-standing friends and associates.
Ammons’ leniency on Hardee, who admittedly played a pivotal role in the transformation of the university, is disturbing. Especially because she took part in the layoff of 200 university employees last spring.
Some of those who were laid off are now looking and hoping for jobs in which they are allotted substantial annual leave and have a pushover for a boss.
Cronyism, as evidenced by the general counsel’s findings, can have detrimental trickle-down effects. Hardee worked with her significant other and sister, who were hired by the university. The result…accountability becomes the punch line in a bad joke about FAMU.
Moreover, Ammons is sending the wrong message to his employees, and those who’ve supported him in transitioning the university. He is saying “You will be held accountable, unless we’re friends.”