Lot’s of Money, No Research Beef

So, over about seven years, Robert Felner, a director of an independent center at the University of Rhode Island, was apparently able to siphon $1.7 million in funding away from its intended purpose:

Two months after a former administrator at the University of Rhode Island was indicted on 10 federal fraud charges, URI officials say they are putting in place measures designed to prevent future fraud. …
According to the federal indictment, Felner, 58, diverted $1.7 million from a respected education research center he had established at URI. The fraud began while Felner was at URI and continued after he became dean of education at the University of Louisville in 2003, federal authorities say. …
URI officials say that Seitsinger, Laferriere and the center’s other employees were kept in the dark about most of the center’s finances. They had no idea that hundreds of thousands of dollars for work developing surveys for school districts in Atlanta, Buffalo and Santa Monica allegedly flowed into private bank accounts controlled by Felner and Schroeder, say URI officials.

URI VP of Administration Robert Weygand defends the dupes by characterizing Felner as a “cult-figure” with a “strong personality,” but taxpayers and those who despise waste ought to wonder: How is it possible for so much money to disappear without producing discernible deliverables? To what degree does higher education research amount to a box of air?
In the coming audit, which ought to waft through every college and university in the nation, I’d advise those with the spectacles to begin with any group or center that has a name of similar construction to Felner’s “National Center on Public Education and Social Policy.” Why can’t an Education Department just focus on teaching teachers?

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