Two “significant issues” at the University of North Texas were identified during Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting.
The problem spots related to the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences dean transition, as well as the university’s parking services.
Full explanations weren’t presented Thursday, but summaries covered a lack of some background checks for employees, non-compliance with cash handling controls and missing assets, among other problems.
A particular sticking point during the meeting was the revelation that several computers were missing from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
UNT President Neal Smatresk said each computer is checked out to an individual, so it shouldn’t be difficult to track down what the problem was. While he couldn’t say for sure, he said it was possible the computers were outdated and had been thrown out without being properly noted.
Regent John Scott asked for some context on the missing computers, wondering if the problem would be considered relatively minor.
Mickie Tate, senior director over IT audits, said he’d have to audit each department to known how common it is, but the violation is a significant issue.
Problems with the parking service included discrepancies between recorded payments in the general ledger compared with primary records, an internal audit revealed. Two other problems with the service dealt with poorly kept card payments and accounting procedures.
Smatresk made clear he did not know about those problems before the meeting.
“I wish I could have seen and thought through those results harder” before Thursday, he said.
He told those listening he would have an explanation for each red flag prepared in time for the next meeting.
Nineteen audits were reviewed during Thursday’s meeting. In addition to the two from Denton’s campus, UNT Dallas also had one that qualified as a “significant issue.”
Other than the audits and other routine business, the COVID-19 pandemic was present across much of the board meeting. It was perhaps most pronounced during the quarterly budget overview.
Chief Financial Officer Dan Tenney projected the university would see a significant drop in the number of international students in the fall semester. To potentially offset that, he said students wary of going to school far from home might come the UNT in higher numbers than years past.
Regardless of the outcome, Tenney said the system was in a good place to cut expenses to mitigate any likely funding damage in the coming years.
Another impact of COVID-19 came toward the top of the meeting when Smatresk mentioned a rise in xenophobia on campuses, particularly toward people of Asian ancestry. Smatresk spoke about the issue broadly but did not address any specific incidents on campus.
He referred to a March 20 tweet he posted addressing the same issue.
In part, he wrote at the time: “Amid growing concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 infections ... there has been an increase in the number of reports regarding stereotyping, harassment and bullying directed toward students and faculty perceived to be of Chinese-American or, more generally, Asian descent.”
He went on to decry such actions and said they would not be tolerated at UNT.
A university spokesperson, reached for comment at the time, said Smatresk wasn’t speaking directly to a local increase in racial profiling but instead toward a national trend.