ASU President says school is "under attack by the governor" - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

ASU President says school is "under attack by the governor"

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ASU President Dr. William Harris ASU President Dr. William Harris
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
In their first public comments and interviews since the preliminary results of a 36 page forensic audit were made public, Alabama State University's President, Dr. William Harris, said the university was "under attack by a governor who wishes to control the destiny of the university" and ASU's Board Chairman, Elton Dean, denied allegations within the report.

Harris spoke from a prepared statement following ASU's "Bridgebuilders Breakfast" held at the RSA Activity Center in Downtown Montgomery.

Governor Bentley's press secretary Jennifer Ardis, responded to Harris' statement saying his, "sole interest is doing what is best for the University, for its students, its faculty, and its alumni. He does not want anything to hinder the ability of Alabama State University to serve its students, our community, and our state. We owe it to the students and faculty to make appropriate corrections and place the University on a successful path forward."
 
Ardis added, "It is absurd to believe that the governor has any ulterior motives regarding ASU."

ASU's president had strong words about the audit which was agreed to by Gov. Bentley's administration and the Alabama State University Board of Trustees.

The findings were compiled by the firm of Forensic Strategic Solutions of Birmingham.
Harris called the document, "flawed," and that many of the findings had "clear and glaring inaccuracies."  

In particular, he said, "Serving on the Board of Trustees while a family member works for the university does not violate the conflict of interest statute."

The report detailed alleged wrongdoing by Judge Marvin Wiggins, the Vice-Chair of the ASU Board of Trustees. In sum, auditors found that more than $250,000 was paid to members of Wiggins' family including his wife, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law. A previous report indicated that a document within the FSS report was an order for payment from Judge Wiggins, but the document was an order of payment for an invoice relating to student housing.

Wiggins' relatives worked for a summer camp held at ASU, while his sister-in-law worked as a professor at ASU and was hired in 2012 after being disbarred as an attorney in the state of North Carolina.

Harris also said that he had not had a chance to review the entire FSS report, but added that the section he had reviewed were "false and misleading."

As for Elton Dean, he said he was disappointed that the report was released to the press and public by the governor before ASU had a chance to review the findings.

"We acted with the governor in good faith" Dean said.

Dean is one of the subjects of the audit that are prominently mentioned. FSS auditors found payments to members of Dean's family as well as payments to a woman named Falicia Rhodes who earned more $78,000 from the ASU Center for Leadership and Public Policy but auditors noted that they don't know what if any work she completed for the center.

When asked if he could comment on who Falicia Rhodes was, Dean said, "I can't comment on that."

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