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Chancellor Offers to Repay Money : UCSB Official Takes Responsibility for Home Remodeling

April 23, 1986|MILES CORWIN | Times Staff Writer

SANTA BARBARA — UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Robert Huttenback, subject of an investigation by the University of California involving the possible misuse of university funds for household expenses, said Tuesday he is prepared to repay the university because some of the money spent is his "own responsibility."

Huttenback did not say how much money he spent on household expenses, including refurbishment of his kitchen, but a university system source said the amount exceeds $25,000.

A statement released by Huttenback's office said, "Although he thought he was following the appropriate procedures, Chancellor Huttenback has only recently become aware that he may not have done so and that some parts of the cost are in fact his own responsibility and are not chargeable to the university."

As a result of the financial questions and other issues, a group of faculty leaders and student body officers recently have suggested that Huttenback resign. Today, students are scheduled to vote, as part of their spring election, on whether they have confidence in the chancellor.

Joe Pastrone, an associate vice president in the university system's business and finance office, investigated several weeks ago whether Huttenback misused university funds for his home.

After a preliminary investigation, Pastrone told Huttenback it appeared that some expenses "didn't follow procedures." Pastrone said he planned to return to UC Santa Barbara with several staff members because "additional information needed to be dug up, a further review needed to be done."

But Huttenback called for a full audit by the University of California in his statement and, as a result, Pastrone has turned over his data to the university system's auditor. The audit is expected to begin in a few days, Pastrone said, and the results should be ready in several weeks.

Huttenback lives in an off-campus home in Santa Barbara because shortly after he arrived in 1978 he insisted that the chancellor's residence was unsuitable for family living. As a result, the UCSB Foundation, an independent money-raising arm of the university, made Huttenback a small short-term loan to help cover the expenses of buying his own home, and the university regents agreed to provide the chancellor with a housing allowance of up to $26,000 a year.

The chancellor said in his statement that his home has been "the focus of very extensive entertainment for the benefit of the university." In the last few years, Huttenback said, he has undertaken a number of "capital repairs and/or improvements to his property." He said he had assumed that because of the official use of the residence, the cost of the projects could be legitimately charged to the university.

'Fully Prepared'

Huttenback now is "fully prepared," the statement said, "to accept responsibility for any amount that is determined to be his."

Although the University of California agreed with Huttenback in 1979 that the on-campus chancellor's residence was set in a noisy area and was not suitable for family living, critics contended it was just another sign of his imperiousness. Huttenback's predecessor, Vernon Cheadle, and his family lived in the three-bedroom house for 13 years, until his retirement.

Two weeks ago, nine prominent faculty members, including the chairman and the vice chairman of the Academic Senate, sent a letter to David Gardner, president of the University of California, stating that it is in the "best interests of the campus and the university that Chancellor Huttenback consider resigning."

The letter raised a number of broad criticisms of Huttenback's performance as chancellor, including "diminished capacity to provide the moral authority to lead and represent this campus," his "judgment, priorities and effectiveness in academic matters," and "alienation of student leaders."

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