Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hey Big Spender!

Some things in life are free. For everything else there’s Charles A. Taylor. Wherever he has held a college executive position Taylor seems to leave others with the bill for his lavish tastes.

Community Colleges of Spokane
While chancellor here, Taylor arranged a junket to attend a conference in Africa, although it is not clear what business or educational partnership exists between eastern Washington and west Africa. He took his wife along, because he explained they expect a man to be accompanied by his wife, who has important functions to perform. He got into trouble for having used a college credit card to pay for his wife’s airfare (though with board approval) for $2,000.

In order to rent administrative office space at an offcampus waterfront location, Taylor spent nearly 2 million dollars from a “reserve” fund, an expenditure that was only discovered by the trustees after his departure. The CCS administrative offices were moved off campus into the Riverpoint One building that had been purchased by the CCS Foundation for nearly 9 million dollars. Taylor had assured the trustees that state money and cash from the CCS budget wouldn’t be used to maintain the building, but he didn’t say anything about using the reserve funds. When Taylor had proposed moving CCS offices to Riverpoint One he claimed that other tenants would pay the rent for CCS.

Trustees there had given him a $15,000 bonus shortly before they fired him.

After Taylor was fired from CCS, Taylor’s successor David Habura had to reduce administrative costs and services to the three CCS entities in order to recover the money. According to Habura “To the best of my knowledge and by all indicators, the trustees were not aware of the situation and are as dismayed as I am”. Habura also said that CCS was facing over three quarters of a million dollar deficit at the end of the fiscal year. Included in that deficit was a half million dollar rent bill for the new Riverpoint One office space, a $200,000 cost overrun from moving into that building, $70,000 for marketing, and $36,000 in other expenses.

Peralta Community College
After being fired at Spokane, his arrival at Peralta was expensive and controversial. According to Will Harper in the East Bay Express, Taylor followed a notorious figure who had been fired by the Peralta Board, named Ronald Temple. Harper wrote that you “can only hope the board of trustees negotiates a better deal with the next chancellor it hires. It is troubling, though, that a leading candidate to replace Temple as interim chancellor is a guy Temple brought in himself upon the recommendation of CampusWorks, the consulting firm founded by an ex-con and Temple associate. He is Charles Taylor, who came to Peralta last May to serve as the interim vice chancellor for administration and finance. And in typical free-spending Peralta fashion, the district paid $18,000 back then for its new interim vice chancellor to permanently move to the Bay Area from Washington”.

While at Peralta, Charles Taylor oversaw a major construction project. Because of his mismanagement, change orders for the project cost the college half a million dollars, only discovered after Taylor left, according to a report to the Peralta board of trustees made by Peralta General Services Director Sadiq Ikharo (reported by Berkeley Daily Press).

Current Activities
The expenses that he wanted to make for his inauguration at his current employment included extravagant printing costs and other items that at least one planner objected to. His insistence on a full color Presidents Newsletter and annual report (featuring numerous photographs of him prominently) is another luxury, as well as metal pins with the new college logo and other PR giveaway items. An expenseive “rebranding” campaign required the production of new media and print materials, such as stationery, business cards, name tags, and the like. The recent cancellation of the employees award banquet required the college to pay a penalty. He is also reportedly the defendant in a federal employment suit associated with his presidency at the college though it is not clear if there is a civil monetary suit involved.

Recent reports by several campus sources say that Charles Taylor requested the installation of a shower in his executive suite that would of cost $30,000. Fortunately, somebody got smart and called the Virginia employee fraud, abuse, and waste hotline to put an end to that little home improvement. However, it is reported that the construction estimate was expensive.

The college is also planning to purchase an off campus office building where it is currently renting office and classroom space (maybe to move all its executives?) and has just broken ground for a building for a second campus in Williamsburg.

Then there’s the VP bunch. Student enrollments have grown under the Taylor presidency and so have the number of Vice Presidents and Associate Vice Presidents, and recently a first ever Provost, and they are very expensive. These include a Vice President for Academic Affairs, a Vice President for Student Affairs, a Vice President for Finance and Administration, a Vice President for Information Technology, a Vice President for Institutional Advancement, a Vice President for Workforce Development, a Provost for the new campus in Williamsburg, and a Special Assistant to the President. There are six Associate Vice Presidents. They pull down the biggest salaries in a college and they each require secretaries (top dog Taylor has two secretaries Flagstiffed has been told).

But despite huge enrollment increases in the past ten years and increases in the number of Vice Presidents and Associate Vice Presidents, the number of fulltime faculty has not increased by much, as reported by several of Flagstiff’s readers. Administration is more important than teaching, they say.

This information has been provided by current and former employees.

Somehow, it doesn’t add up.

Want to find out more? Suggested reading:

Audit finds CCS erred by ‘loaning’ state credit, by Virginia de Leon, Spokesman Review, June 22, 2001
Settlements Drain CCS, Taxpayers, by Virginia de Leon, The Spokane Spokesman-Review, September 30, 2001
CCS Finds Reserves Depleted, by Virginia de Leon, The Spokesman-Review, November 8, 2001
Who’s to blame by Pia K Hansen, The Pacific Northwest Inlander, November 8, 2001
Report of Whistleblower Investigation, CCS, #01-133, May 22, 2001
Chancellor’s windfall, severance hangover, by Will Harper, East Bay Express, March 5, 2003.
New Vista College Campus on Track for 2006, Berkley Daily Planet, April 26, 2005

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