UCF director accused of misusing funds, resigns
UCF Nicholson School of Communication Director Robert C. Chandler resigned after accusations made against him for misusing university funds and resources.
Documents obtained from UCF News and Information include a proposed employment termination written by the Dean of Colleges of Sciences Michael D. Johnson. Following a months-long investigation by the university, Chandler was placed on administrative leave with pay.
The March 20 letter states Chandler made more than 100 authorized trips for the university, which included travel expenses such as airline tickets, hotels, meals and transportation. Although his expenses were covered by the university, Chandler is accused of using a third-party entity for a "significant number of these trips" to reimburse him for his travel.
"These expenses were, in many cases, identical to expenses listed on your UCF Voucher for Reimbursement of Traveling Expenses form that you signed and submitted to the university for repayment," Johnson's termination letter to Chandler states.
In November 2014, Chandler was informed of his investigation by Johnson and the University Compliance, Ethics and Risk.
"Shortly afterward, on Dec. 12, 2014, you made the first identifiable correction to a travel reimbursement for the most recent trip that you had taken. Until that day, our records do not show any attempt by you to reimburse an appropriate university account," Johnson continues in the letter.
After being interviewed by University Audit, Chandler reimbursed the university for overpayments with approximately $30,000.
Johnson made it clear in the letter that although Chandler reimbursed the expenses, it still doesn't take away from the situation.
"With roughly 40 counts of 'double-dipping' on your travel expenses, it is impossible for me to accept an explanation of 'sloppiness' on your part," Johnson wrote in the letter.
After further investigation, Chandler has also been accused of misusing the school's resources by using university personnel for personal business.
On March 25, Chandler sent a letter to Johnson in response to the accusations stating that this is the "very first time" he was notified of these accusations.
The 10-page response includes a breakdown of his expenses and explanations of why third-party reimbursements were made.
In regard to overpayments, Chandler says that the goal of the third-party reimbursements wasn't to harm the school, it was to help its work by extending its available resources and aid in the business purpose of his trips.
As far as misusing university resources, Chandler responds by saying that the resources were within his assigned job duties.
He also goes into detail about his overall job position, continuing his education development and his outside activities.
Chandler concludes his termination response by stating that the university did not have an "adequate proactive" process in helping to resolve any potential problems after accusations were first made.
"The flawed process that has been followed in this situation was simply wrong." Chandler stated in his letter. "I am grateful to have had the experience of working with the NSC faculty, staff, students and the Board of Visitors. I believe that we were together enacting the broad vision for a world-class academic program and a nationally prominent School of Communication. I am disappointed that I shall no longer serve them."
Chandler provided his notice of resignation, effective May 1, 2015, after working as a director since Jan. 12, 2009 with a current salary of $201,058.72, according to UCF spokeswoman Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala.
Marina Guerges is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @marinaguerges or email her at MarinaG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.