The Gainesville Sun by Kevin Brockway
February 21, 2019
Whistleblower claims money improperly diverted from housing fund for rec building, Greek house parking lot
As the president of the University of Central Florida resigned this week in connection with misuse of state money for campus buildings, the University of Florida confirmed it has launched an internal investigation into the possible misuse of millions in public money.
UF officials sent a prepared statement Wednesday afternoon, but would not elaborate on the investigation’s length or scope.
“The University of Florida takes very seriously its role as a steward of public funds and a recipient of the public’s trust,” the statement reads. “Therefore, the university swiftly and aggressively addresses allegations of business practices that do not support university and/or state laws, regulations and policies.”
An anonymous whistleblower sent a complaint to the governor’s office as well as the Florida Department of Education. The whistleblower, using an anonymous email account, also sent the complaint to The Sun.
According to the complaint, Norbert Dunkel, then-UF’s associate vice president for auxiliary services, and Nancy Chrystal-Green, then-director of student activities and involvement, misused more than $3 million, to construct a $1.8 million building for the Center of Outdoor and Recreation Education and $1.3 million to clear 3 acres of woods to prepare three Greek housing lots.
Both Dunkel and Chrystal-Green were later promoted, Dunkel to associate vice president for student affairs, and Chrystal-Green to assistant vice president for student engagement.
The Sun last week filed seven public records requests asking for, among other things, emails sent and received by Dunkel and Chrystal-Green. This week, UF denied the requests, citing an open investigation.
Dunkel and Chrystal-Green both declined interview requests or to provide other comment to The Sun on Thursday.
Memos between Dunkel and Chrystal-Green were among those denied by UF officials on the grounds that they are part of the investigation.
A letter from the governor’s office said the complaint had been forwarded to UF’s Office of Internal Audit. The Department of Education referred the matter to the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees UF and other state universities.
“Consistent with UF’s standard practice with these types of allegations, UF administration has launched an immediate investigation that will examine these claims appropriately,” UF’s prepared statement read.
The investigation comes on the heels of UCF President Dale Whittaker resigning after investigations revealed the school used, or planned to use, $85 million in leftover operating funds on construction, in violation of state rules. Last September, state auditors discovered that UCF used funds intended for operating expenses toward construction of a new $38 million on-campus academic building.