Head of technology school resigns after critical audit

SALT LAKE CITY

The president of the Utah College of Applied Technology has resigned, a month after a critical state audit, the state System of Higher Education said Thursday.

The audit said Robert Brems was given an unreasonable compensation package and that one of the schools that reports to him illegally used public financing to build a float for political purposes.

The audit said Brems received a questionable $157,782 pay package when he left Mountainland Applied Technology College in May 2006 to take the job as head of UCAT.

Brems said the audit has disrupted operations at UCAT and that his resignation is in the school’s best interest.

The audit said that the chairman of Mountainland Applied Technology College approved the transition package for Brems because he was being penalized financially for accepting the job as UCAT’s president and giving up an opportunity to receive an early retirement benefit in the future.

The August audit disputed that statement, saying Brems made more money as UCAT’s president than he did at MTAC and that Brems wouldn’t have qualified for early retirement.

“The board’s justification for awarding the “transition package” to remedy a monetary penalty or to provide a financial incentive to accept his new position is unreasonable,” the audit said.

The audit also criticized Brems for not instituting internal controls to prevent the construction of a political float by MTAC. Construction of the float cost about $1,100. Brems was not the president of MTAC at the time the float was built, but MTAC president Clay Christensen reported to Brems. The money for the float was eventually paid for by a private donor after Christensen spoke with Brems about the issue, but the audit said it was Brems’ responsibility to ensure situations like that don’t occur.

“Our most significant concern is the campus president’s disregard for the law and use of his position to attempt to override internal controls designed to detect and prevent improper disbursements,” the audit said. “Management’s attitude toward laws or policy establishes a tone or environment within an organization that is followed by subordinate personnel. A weak control environment increases the risk that inappropriate transactions could occur without detection.”

Brems will remain on paid leave through October. Jared Haines will continue to serve as interim president until the state board of regents fills the position.

Brems gave his resignation in a letter to Utah higher education chief Richard Kendell.

UCAT is one of 10 public colleges and universities within the Utah System of Higher Education.

– Associated Press



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