MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The University of Minnesota’s top technology officer resigned under pressure in the wake of complaints raised about his handling of employees and possible misuse of university funds, including allegations he purchased equipment for himself and others.
The fuller picture of Scott Studham’s separation from the school came Friday as the university released records in response to an open records request from The Associated Press and others. Studham’s departure last week was announced as a resignation, but in a statement accompanying the release, President Eric Kaler said he asked Studham to leave.
“While there have been complaints filed with the university about Mr. Studham’s judgment, that’s not the reason I requested that he step aside,” Kaler said in his statement. “My decision centered on the culture in his unit and his relationship with his peers.”
Studham was paid $265,000 a year. He got three months’ severance and agreed not to sue.
Studham’s resignation last week came as the university was wrestling with fallout from athletic director Norwood Teague’s admission that he sexually harassed two high-ranking administrators. The university said then that Studham’s situation had nothing to do with Teague, who resigned the day the university announced he had admitted sending inappropriate texts.
Studham was the subject of multiple complaints, but several were minor in scope or unsubstantiated by investigators. But several serious allegations were raised as part of an internal audit undertaken starting in May.
Studham said in a response to the audit he did nothing wrong. In an email to AP Friday, he said the decision to resign was his “and was made so that I could pursue my passion for low-cost technology to transform education.”
He said the complaints in the audit were “allegations in general, they are just that and based on rumors, misunderstandings or — in a couple of cases — an honest mistake on my part like failing to properly record a vacation day.”
The audit examined Studham’s hiring of personal friends as university contractors outside the normal competitive bid process and his own use of university equipment, recording of vacation time and use of school funds. There were also suggestions he was monitoring email and instant messenger traffic of employees inside and outside of his department, a charge he rejected as “completely untrue.”
“The document outlining rumors about my actions while serving as CIO was a surprise,” he wrote in response to the audit.
The report describes the purchase of 21 devices — Google Glass, an aerial drone, a high-end gaming headset and multiple laptop computers among them — which auditors sought more information on. In the audit, Studham said none were for personal use and some were bought because “people would expect me to know something about it” as a technological evaluator.
In his response, Studham said he was unable to account for the location of six of the devices. His own accounting also mentioned four Macbook Air laptops or Macbook computers with the notation “I have this. Will deliver it.” Two more Macbook Airs were among the items marked “unsure of location.”
Auditors examined spending on top-level retreats amid allegations some were excessive. The report cites one two-day retreat involving senior department officials at a Wisconsin resort where the bill this June added up to more than $10,000 for 18 people.
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