As if HBCU’s didn’t have enough issues finding funds, six Howard University employees were fired last year for stealing $1 million in student financial aid. This revelation comes at particularly difficult time for the university, whose students have demanded changes at the historically Black institution. The university’s president, Wayne Frederick has been under fire for some time.
Earlier this year, in the arctic blast that hit the East Coast, the university’s spring semester was delayed by damages from weather related burst pipes. And as you may remember, Howard has not been the only major HBCU with issues with their sitting president. Morehouse’s president was ultimately ousted as students demanded changes at that HBCU as well.
Six Howard University employees were fired last year for “gross misconduct and neglect of duties” following an independent auditor’s investigation into misappropriation of financial aid funds, according to a statement from the school’s president Wayne A.I. Frederick.
The firings took place in September, 2017, and were made public Wednesday in Frederick’s statement.
According to the statement, some university employees received two kinds of benefits when they were only supposed to receive one. One kind of benefit is tuition remission, which waives tuition costs for employees who are enrolled in university classes. The other benefit was a university grant. The two benefits together added up to more than the cost of attendance, which resulted in the employees receiving improper refunds.
Frederick said he was first made aware of the problem in December, 2016. He later brought in an outside auditor to supplement the school’s internal investigation.
Howard completed its internal investigation of “individual employee actions” in September, 2017, and said it would refer any actions for “criminal prosecution” when appropriate. The employees were not identified.
The University is still working with outside experts to determine the total amount of misappropriated money during the nine-year span.
The statement also lists a series of new policies and procedures as a direct result of the investigation’s findings, including the hiring of a new chief compliance officer.
The announcement comes less than 24 hours after an anonymous post published on Medium alleged financial abuses at the University. NBC News was not able to independently verify the specific allegations made in the original Medium post.
The post was removed from Medium Wednesday afternoon.
Howard University officials tell NBC News the president’s statement Wednesday was not prompted by the Medium post.
In a radio interview with HBCU Digest, Frederick said he was very “concerned” about the results of the investigation getting out because criminal charges against individuals involved are still a “possibility.”
One of the employees accused, made this statement via Twitter:
ABC News has received the following statement on behalf of Tyrone Hankerson Jr. pic.twitter.com/hIA8uaIlG3
— Anastasia (@AnastasiaElyseW) March 28, 2018
Tyrone Hankerson via Instagram
The revelations of financial abuses comes at a particularly challenging time for the prominent HBCU and its president.
Sunday night, HUResist, a student-led activist group at Howard, posted a list of nine demands ranging from better university housing accommodations to greater administration accountability. The group also called for Frederick’s “immediate resignation.”
Last year, faculty leaders voted “no confidence” in Frederick — though the vote’s legitimacy has been questioned. In addition to voicing their concerns on the availability of university housing, Howard students have been critical of Frederick’s visit with the Trump administration and his handling of certain student matters.
School officials tell NBC News the University plans to “exercise all options to recoup the funds” and that any money that is taken away from students is “unacceptable.”
As could be expected, social media had a field day with Hankerson, one of the alleged embezzlers, to the point that “Tyrone” was a trending topic on Twitter. Here are some of the tweets:
Surveillance footage of Tyrone answering student calls in HU Financial Aid Office… pic.twitter.com/i9o5ucZ8Cj
— G O L D I E. (@goldietaylor) March 28, 2018
Tyrone Hankerson walked around that campus for 4 years just like this. pic.twitter.com/0jbrT3Cl5N
— Afro-LightskinO. (@itsKARY_) March 28, 2018
A nigga name Tyrone stealing 1 million from financial aid is the most HBCU thing ever.
— VanLathan (@VanLathan) March 28, 2018
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