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Audit Clears UT-Pan Am President of Using Public Funds to Improve Residence

The president of University of Texas-Pan American did not
know she was breaking rules when more than $7,000 of public money went to
improve her private residence and pay for her daily commute, according to a
report released Wednesday by the University
of Texas System Audit Office.

An anonymous letter sent to the state auditor in June
accused UTPA President Blandina Cardenas of using public funds to pay for
landscaping service and install an air conditioning unit, sprinkler system and
alarm in her home, among other things.

The report concludes the president’s office believed the
house and lawn maintenance along with inappropriate travel expenses fell within
the conduct of official university business.

On July 3 and 5, Cardenas reimbursed the university
$7,068.57 to cover the improvements to her home and car mileage commuting to
and from work.

The University of Texas System introduced a policy to
regulate presidential compensation in August 2003. Increased scrutiny related
to presidential compensation led to a systemwide audit of presidential travel,
entertainment and housing expenses in May 2006, the report states.

Last summer, the regents of Texas Southern University fired
President Priscilla Slade after an investigation found she spent more than
$260,000 in school money, allegedly to decorate her own home.

Slade, who denies wrongdoing, faces an August trial on two
charges of criminally misusing university money for her private benefit. Two
other ex-Texas Southern employees also face charges related to the improper use
of school funds.

– Associated Press

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