Saturday, May 22, 1999

Report: Central State presidents erred

But no criminal actions found at university

The Associated Press

        WILBERFORCE — Two former Central State University presidents committed wrongful but not criminal acts during their tenures, the Ohio inspector general said.

        Former presidents Arthur Thomas and Herman Smith caused mismanagement of the university's academic, fiscal and physical plant operations, said the report by Inspector General Thomas Charles.

        Larry James, an attorney for Mr. Thomas, said the report contains little new information and essentially clears Mr. Thomas of serious wrongdoing.

        Mr. Smith could not be reached for comment Friday. A message was left at his home in Atlanta.

        The report released Wednesday is from a two-year, multiagency investigation into the operation of Ohio's only public, historically black university from 1995 to 1997.

        Central State, located about 15 miles east of Dayton, recently emerged from years of financial troubles and millions of dollars of debt. The state took over the school's finances in 1997, and a new university administration was installed later.

        Mr. Thomas was Central State's president from 1985-95. He was replaced by Mr. Smith, who was ousted 16 months later when the school's financial condition failed to improve.

        The report said Mr. Thomas and Mr. Smith failed to:

        • Provide the board of trustees with complete, accurate and timely information about the university's state of affairs.

        • Maintain proper records of property, inventory, payments and payroll.

        • Safeguard property from abuse, loss or theft.


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