Published September 14, 2017
Dear University Community,
As university president, I share in your sheer disappointment and deep anger over the crimes committed by two now-former UB employees. It is only natural that we, as a campus community, would feel a collective sense of betrayal upon learning that two of our own longtime employees abused their trusted role as public servants by stealing university funds for their own selfish purposes. Their actions demonstrated a brazen disregard for our university, our students, our faculty, our employees and the many communities we serve.
And yet, it is important that we not let the actions of these bad actors cast a pall over our university. Even as we grapple with the shock and anger we feel over this egregious breach of trust, we must remind ourselves of one important fact:
This is not what UB is about.
At UB, we don’t just value integrity as a concept; we live it. That is why, when someone makes a mockery of this value, it reverberates throughout our entire community.
And when this happens, it is imperative that UB leadership makes sure procedures and policies are in place, and are being strictly followed, to ensure that it never happens again.
As I said in my email to the university community last week, when I first learned of potential financial mismanagement in the former University Life and Services organization, I immediately called for an internal audit. As soon as we uncovered financial irregularities, we delved deeper still, uncovering the financial abuse that led us to turn over the investigation to the Office of the Inspector General, who in turn passed it to the District Attorney.
Throughout this process, we took swift and appropriate measures to tighten our financial controls. This included assigning authority for all financial decisions and transactions in the Faculty Student Association (FSA) and the former University Life and Services (ULS) organization to the Vice President for Finance and Administration.
Over the past three years, we have taken a number of steps to enhance our university’s control structure. The measures taken are meant to ensure that across every area of the university we are exercising the utmost diligence in our business and financial practices:
The controls we put in place specific to the FSA have included:
Anytime an institution undergoes a breach in the public trust, it is inevitable that we ask: How do we prevent this from happening again?
As president, it is my responsibility to ensure that it never does. We have been deliberate and thorough in putting into place, across our institution, controls to protect every unit within UB. Further, we will be vigilant in enforcing these policies and procedures throughout our university.
As I have said before, integrity is not an abstract value at UB. It is a lived value. I am proud to say that we have incredibly dedicated and honest employees across UB. It is the dedicated and honest members of our university community — our students, our faculty and our staff — who are advancing the greater public good through their ideas, their discoveries and their innovations.
This is not just our mission; it is how we identify as a campus community. I see this every day in our classrooms, in our engagement with our neighbors here and far, and in our research and creative expression that betters humanity. It is this honest work, done with integrity, that exemplifies UB.
Satish K. Tripathi