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Head of UC Santa Barbara Misused Funds, Audit Says

June 07, 1986|ANNE C. ROARK | Times Education Writer

A University of California audit has concluded that Robert A. Huttenback, chancellor of UC Santa Barbara, "inappropriately" spent $174,000 in university funds for personal household expenses.

Under an agreement announced Friday between the university and the chancellor, Huttenback will repay the money with a combination of cash and additions to his mortgage, which the university holds.

Accompanying the audit report Friday was a letter from UC President David P. Gardner saying that Gardner will begin, as the faculty governing body at UC Santa Barbara had requested, an investigation of Huttenback's "overall performance . . . during these past two to three years."

In a related matter, The Times has learned that the UC central administration has sequestered all records of the UC Santa Barbara Foundation, an independent money-raising organization affiliated with the university. The foundation loaned Huttenback a total of $9,000 in March and July of 1982, and there is some question as to the propriety of the pay-back arrangement between Huttenback and the foundation, according to officials at the central university office in Berkeley.

Last week, after disclosures of his other financial problems with the university, Huttenback immediately repaid $15,129 to the foundation, which members of the foundation board said represented full payment of principal and interest on those loans. Huttenback said he obtained the money for the loan repayment from "small, individual contributions" from supporters.

Despite the many problems facing the beleaguered chancellor, Huttenback said Friday in a telephone interview that he has "many supporters" both on campus and within the community.

"I just hope that this is the final act of turmoil . . . and that we can get back to work before this has any lasting impact on the university," Huttenback told a large group of faculty members who met with him Friday after release of the audit report.

On May 21, the faculty legislature had voted 31 to 3 to ask the UC president to conduct a "comprehensive but expeditious inquiry" into Huttenback's performance. The faculty vote was based in part on a faculty report that was highly critical of the chancellor's management style.

The report, which Huttenback contends is the view of only a "small minority" of the faculty, says that the chancellor at times has been imprudent in his decisions, has committed money for superfluous projects while ignoring core academic programs, and has consistently failed to take into account faculty views on important academic matters.

Amid charges from faculty and staff that he had misused university funds for his home, Huttenback himself requested an audit of his household expenses. In general, he defended the expenditures, saying they were warranted because he uses his home extensively for official university functions.

After the audit, Robert Tuffnell, the university auditor, said he found "no willful intent to deceive or to cover up on anyone's part," but he did point out "inappropriate and unauthorized" expenditures, as well as procedures not in accordance with university policy.

For example, Huttenback spent $154,895 on remodeling the kitchen, laundry room and "public areas" of his house but failed in many cases to follow university procedures for getting competitive bids from contractors before the work was undertaken, the auditor said.

The audit also found that Huttenback had spent $300 for a vase, $847 for a bed and $4,200 to reupholster two couches--all of which was charged to university accounts.

In all, the audit found, Huttenback spent a total of $217,292 on household expenses and charged them to the university between 1978 and 1986. That figure was over and above the chancellor's housing and entertainment stipends, which now total $58,000 a year. Of the total amount charged, only $43,204 represented "appropriate" university expenses, the audit concluded.

The auditor added, however, that precise costs were difficult to come by because, in some cases, "exact data were not available" and, in the case of work done by university maintenance crews, charges made to Huttenback's private home and the official chancellor's residence on campus were "commingled" under the same account number.

Shortly after coming to Santa Barbara in 1978, Huttenback elected to buy his own home off campus, arguing that the campus house was unsuitable for his family--a conclusion supported by the central administration after a review of the house in April, 1982.

Because he was at first not given a housing allowance but used his home for fund-raising and other official activities, Huttenback said he began charging expenses to the university. Today, he said, he gets a housing allowance that amounts to $1,500 a month in cash--enough to cover his mortgage but little else.

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