A Fairfield County state senator is asking Connecticut’s Auditors of Public Accounts office to investigate the University of Connecticut after UConn announced that a professor and his administrative assistant violated travel and compensatory time policies that cost the university more than $100,000.
“This activity only was discovered because of a whistleblower complaint, not the university’s own systems of checks and balances,” State Sen. Michael McLachlan, a Republican whose district includes Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield and Sherman, wrote to the APA. “Additionally, this lack of oversight is frighteningly similar to problems discovered earlier this year at the UConn Health Center.”
UConn announced last week that Prof. Ram D. Gopal, who was also the head of the Operations and Information Management Department in the School of Business, resigned after fraudulent activity and an inappropriate relationship with an administrative assistant, Melissa Burk, were discovered.
The professor took the assistant on trips to Dublin, Los Angeles, South Korea and India “on the university’s dime,” according to McLachlan; the pair approved each other’s travel expense forms, and the assistant was paid nearly $90,000 in unearned compensatory time.
The misdeeds were uncovered by an internal UConn audit.
Earlier this year, it was discovered that the UConn Health Center continued to send regular payments to a professor who had not reported to work in about eight months and was discovered to have been dead much of that time. A later APA report disclosed improper payment of compensatory time for UConn Health Center staff and poor record-keeping, as well as other irregularities.
“I am concerned that management and financial oversight problems are endemic to all of the facilities and organizations under the University of Connecticut umbrella,” McLachlan wrote. “How many other instances of inadequate record-keeping and lax management practices have not been discovered?”
UConn did not have an immediate comment.