Auditor says no laws or policies were broken in vet school probe

Andy Mannix

In response to allegations of bribery and other business misconduct in the College of Veterinary Medicine development office last year, the University internal auditor reported no laws or University policies were broken, but bad business decisions were made.

Allegations include that a CVM donor and volunteer was granted special privileges in “an attempt at bribery while trying to get this donor to increase their level of giving to the college,” according to the internal audit report.

The alleged bribery included granting between $200 and $300 in free parking for the volunteer, whose name has been redacted from the report, despite the CVM policy that volunteers are to pay for their parking, according to the report.

“Almost everyone we talked to, agreed this was not a good business decision, and not an arrangement that should be approved in the future,” the report stated.

However, there is no University-wide policy that volunteers can’t have their parking paid for.

There were also allegations that someone was given “inappropriate hospitality or travel expenses,” including a free lunch and hotel stay, paid with CVM money. The investigation concluded there was no such impropriety, according to the report.

There are 405 CVM volunteers, Vivian Neiger, CVM volunteer manager, said. Two of them, including the complainant, quit because of the alleged misconduct, she said.

In her five years in the position, this is the only time she’s known of a volunteer being granted free parking, Niger said.

Interim CVM Dean Trevor Ames, one of three finalists in the CVM Dean race expected to conclude next month, said the parking money came from the CVM’s development budget.

The decision to grant this specific volunteer free parking was made before he took the reigns as interim dean last summer, Ames said, and he was surprised to hear about it.

“I’m not fully aware of the decision-making that went into it,” he said.

To resolve the issue, the CVM administration set a timeline and ceased the free parking after Dec. 31.

“Not being uniform in how you deal with people is always a potential to create a conflict,” Ames said.

The report also contains an allegation that Ames was dishonest about who granted the volunteer free parking. He said he was told that the former director of advancement gave the volunteer permission.

The former director of advancement is Robert Nordin, who now works in the development office at Macalester College.

According to the report, Nordin said he’s 95 percent sure he didn’t approve the arrangement.

Nordin wouldn’t comment for this story.

The report resolves that Ames only relayed information he received from the CVM human resources department, and wasn’t dishonest.

Ames said these allegations came from one person, and to his knowledge, no one else was upset.

“Certainly I think that would have been brought to my attention or addressed in the report,” he said.

University spokesman Dan Wolter said the investigation was not a formal audit because it only investigated specific allegations.

He said there are about 20 such investigations performed every year.