MU finishes internal audit of College of Engineering

Three individuals terminated; criminal investigation continues

June 30, 2022
Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430, BasiC@missouri.edu

University of Missouri officials announced today the completion of an audit that was initiated following allegations of financial mismanagement in the College of Engineering. As a result of information uncovered during the audit, three employees were terminated and others were addressed through personnel and human resources procedures.

The audit found direct evidence that more than $30,700 was stolen from the university either due to theft of electronic equipment or unauthorized purchases that did not benefit the university. Additionally, further allegations of theft valued at more than $132,000 are being investigated by law enforcement.

“As leaders of the state’s flagship institution, we understand the deep confidence that students, families and the state of Missouri have in us,” said Ryan Rapp, executive vice president of finance and operations. “They trust us with valuable resources as we work to fulfill our missions of education, research, service and economic development.”

The internal investigation began following a report from an individual who shared suspicions of financial mismanagement. The investigation uncovered that the theft was aided by employees who felt intimidated by their supervisor.

“We are grateful to those who spoke up and informed the university about their concerns as it led to us uncovering this financial mismanagement,” said Michelle Piranio, chief audit and compliance officer for the University of Missouri. “Other employees did tell us that they were scared to speak up for fear of retaliation. We want to ensure everyone that we take every report seriously, and concerns can be reported anonymously through the UM System Integrity and Accountability Hotline. We want to strive to be a place where every employee feels valued and safe.”

Piranio stressed that, in addition to the hotline, the university has a process that provides numerous checks on financial transactions. In this case, a former financial officer for the College of Engineering was trusted and given a high level of authority on financial matters, which led to breakdowns of the university’s financial check process.

Following the audit, the university is instituting processes to strengthen fiscal accountability. Those actions include:

  • Annual training that states the university’s department of Surplus Property is the only authorized unit to sell university assets.
  • Audits of schools and colleges financial processes on a recurring basis.
  • Identifying specific levels and/or titles of individuals who will have periodic background and credit checks.

“We are confident of our current processes, but know that we should always review and adjust to ensure no one can benefit personally by taking advantage of our financial processes,” Piranio said.

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