Alabama's State University's Interim President, Dr. William Harris, said the year has been very trying on the entire institution with a pair of forensic audits going on.
"It's been a year from hell" Dr. Harris said at ASU's annual board retreat at the Renaissance Ross Bridge Resort and Spa in Hoover. "That's what the university has been through and we think that we have maintained the credibility that we ought to have but we've done it with difficulty" Harris continued.
Each year the university budgets for an executive retreat with the ASU Board of Trustees and top university administrators.
Since December, when the university struck a separation agreement with former university president, Dr. Joseph Silver, the university has been cooperating with auditors commissioned by Governor Robert Bentley, who serves as the board's ex-officio in his official capacity as governor.
"Nothing's been brought to us" said Elton Dean, Chair of the ASU Board of Trustees." We've participated and done everything they've requested so hopefully with God being with us that it will go and it will end we will see that everything that people allege has not been true."
Dr. Harris also defended the cost of a high powered criminal defense attorney and former federal judge that the university hired on a retainer to provide legal counsel during the audit.
"Its general fees and some of it has been related to the audit," Dr. Harris said of the hiring of U.W. Clemon of the Birmingham law firm, White, Arnold & Dowd. Up until June, ASU had paid Clemon and the firm more than $84,000 since January. "To be perfectly frank," Dr. Harris said, "we'll have spent more than that responding to inquiries concerning the audit but we don't have an exact number of that yet, but it is something."
Both Harris and Dean said that they believe that the university has been cooperative and provided everything asked, and that the audits should come to an end.
ASU is still searching for a permanent president. Dr. Harris served as ASU's president on two previous occasions and there is even a street that bears his name on the ASU campus. ASU's presidential search committee will meet next week to discuss the next permanent campus leader.
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