University under financial freeze

Faculty and staff will have to watch how they spend funds until university officials provide late financial statements to the state Department of Finance Administration.

According to a memo sent to all university faculty and staff on Wednesday from President Fred Gainous, several directives are effective until the university brings closure to its financial situation.

Board of Trustees Chairman James Corbin placed an immediate travel and hiring freeze on the university, as well as a spending moratorium during an emergency BOT teleconference on Monday, which was mentioned in the memo sent by Gainous. The moratorium prohibits any spending that is not approved by the University Provost or the appropriate Vice President.

“Until we get our arms around this, we will push the moratorium on any spending except essentials,” Corbin said.

He defined essentials as gas, food and water, and said travel would not be permitted unless it is paid for by an external grant or contract.

In the memo, Gainous said the hiring moratorium also applies to any hiring in the works, especially any executive-level salary person who was not on the payroll as of Nov. 10.

“Having an accurate and reliable financial statement is as important to each of us as it is to the history and future of our great institution,” Gainous said in the memo.

The university was given an extension to turn in the statements after missing two previous deadlines, which resulted in a freeze on all payments to its vendors and business partners, excluding university payroll.

To prevent a similar event from recurring, Corbin created the Financial Crisis Committee during Monday’s teleconference to analyze the problems of the past to see how they impact current issues. The committee consists of members of the board and the budget finance and audit committees. Trustees Challis Lowe and Barney Bishop co-chair the committee.

Despite some of the setbacks, Student Government Association President and Trustee Larry O. Rivers said he is encouraged by the progress the university has made.

“This was just a bump in the road, not a failure,” the 22-year-old senior public relations student from Tallahassee said. “This will help us in the long run to become more fiscally accountable. It won’t happen again.”Rivers attributed the setbacks to the turnover rate and the loss of personnel.

“We lost quite a bit of experience,” Rivers said. “We had to get some new people in to fix the ongoing problems we had.”

The university was given a Thursday extension to turn in the financial statements to the state Department of Finance Administration.Gainous told The Famuan he projected that the statements would be in on time. At press time, it was not clear whether university officials met the extended deadline.