OU’s administration has officially acknowledged two instances of misreporting related to donations to the university that are believed to be intentional.
OU President James Gallogly and OU Counsel Anil Gollahalli confirmed the university inflated alumni participation numbers to U.S. News & World Report for multiple years, as well as misreported gift numbers in the Voluntary Support of Education survey, a survey for charitable giving in public education, for fiscal years 2015 to 2017.
“We found errors, and we corrected them,” Gallogly said. “We found people who acted below the standard of the university, and they don’t work for us anymore.”
Gollahalli said based on the information, in both instances, it didn’t “look like” these situations could be anything other than intentional.
“We believe it was deliberate,” Gollahalli said. “There may be some people who take issue — if you talk to them, they’d say it was a mistake. It appears to us that it was intentional.”
According to a document obtained by The Daily from Gollahalli, a memo shows correspondence between unknown individuals in the early 2000s where an employee said, "I'm assuming that the figures on the chart — and the ones on your survey sheet for the latest year — are already 'doctored,' correct? ... I've penciled in alternative figures ... would like the number to go up one notch."
In a letter sent Nov. 1 of this year by the Director of OU’s Office of Institutional Reporting Susannah Livingood to Keke Ellis, a data collector at U.S. News & World Report, Livingood said there were inaccuracies in the alumni giving numbers going back “a period of years.” Gollahalli said those years could be as many as 15 to 20.
Gallogly confirmed an OU Daily story that revealed the university hired outside law firm Jones Day, one of the largest firms in the world, to conduct a third party investigation into potential misreporting into U.S. News & World Report. Gollahalli said the university hired Jones Day for just short of $200,000.
Gallogly said the investigation looked into all potential misreporting across the university and only found it in the Department of Development, which misreported alumni participation data, or how many alumni donate financially to the university.
“This is one of the things we want to be crystal clear about,” Gallogly said. “There were people in the development office who intended to misreport numbers. However, there were people within that department who came to (Gollahalli) and said numbers had been misrepresented for a long time.”
Gallogly said former OU President David Boren responded to the investigation through an attorney and told investigators he became aware of alumni participation “some years back” and “instructed people to correct it.” Gallogly said that other than that, Boren’s involvement in the misreporting is unknown to him as the investigation was conducted by a third party.
Gallogly said those responsible for the Voluntary Support of Education and U.S. News errors were individuals high up in the development department and they were “asked to resign” by the university.
Former Vice President for Development Tripp Hall and former Director of Alumni Relations JP Audas were removed on Nov. 1 amid a round of staff layoffs. When pressed as to whether Hall and Audas were the employees Gallogly was referencing, Gallogly refused to say.
In regards to misreporting involving the Voluntary Support of Education survey, software was misreported as a monetary gift in the sum of $500 million. Documents provided to The Daily say specifically that software is not to be included in the report, so Gallogly said this issue of misreporting did seem to be deliberate as well. Gallogly informed the regents the university issued a correction during the Sept. 13 regents meeting.
The survey misreporting was not reported to financial agencies and therefore did not affect university’s credit score, which rests at an investment grade A+ rating, but did misrepresent the financial status of the university, Gallogly said. He added that by reflecting university finances as stronger than they actually were, it could affect giving rates from donors or potential state government appropriations.
Gollahalli said the university “wouldn’t make a big press release” regarding the survey misreporting or the U.S. News issue, and that the Jones Day final report would not be made available for public consumption.
“We consider these matters largely closed,” Gollahalli said. “We made a lot of personnel and process changes. We feel confident in the numbers we have on a going-forward basis and from the university’s perspective the matter is behind us and we’re moving forward.”