GRAMBLING, La. – Grambling State University’s (GSU) new president has hired the former president of Virginia’s largest historically Black university to review “every dime” of GSU’s budget.
Dr. Frank Pogue said Dr. Marie McDemmond and two members of her staff also will check the qualifications of Grambling’s accounting staff.
Last week, a state audit found that, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009, the university bought stock with money supposed to be used for buildings and grounds and lost $1 million on the deal.
The purchase was made six months before Pogue arrived on campus as interim president.
McDemmond was president of Norfolk State University for eight years and is credited with strengthening its finances.
For his part, Pogue on Thursday pledged to restore confidence in GSU’s finances. “I am going to try very hard to establish a culture of accountability,” Pogue said. “We’re going to restore the integrity that we simply must have when dealing with state funds.”
Pogue, when asked to respond to a suggestion made Wednesday by state Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, that the state consider additional oversight of GSU’s finances, said that he would welcome added support, though he believes GSU has the building blocks for a successful accounting operation in place.
“Any time we can get special assistance to improve the way we do business and be more responsible to students, we welcome assistance,” Pogue said.
“There is a very good role for a system office to play. We have some good people here now. The whole idea is to surround them with the support services and assistance they need.”
Pogue, whose first official day as GSU’s president was last Thursday, cautioned that a turnaround in GSU’s accounting will not come “overnight.” He said he’s still in the process of digesting a decade worth of accounting and finance information.
Pogue has notified GSU’s chief accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, of the results of the state audit.
“We have shared with SACS our understanding of the history that led to where we are today,” he said. “We have not had a question raised in any way that our anticipated positive result (re-accreditation) would be in any way damaged by this.”
Dr. Belle Wheelan, the commission’s president, said Thursday the commission will include the results of the audit when weighing whether to re-accredit GSU in December.