University review could dig deeper into former dean's spending - WDRB 41 Louisville News

University review could dig deeper into former dean's spending

For the first time since federal investigators began looking into former education dean Robert Felner, the University of Louisville says it will provide weekly updates on its internal investigation.

Felner is accused of mishandling nearly $700,000 worth of grant money. But the university's review might dig even deeper. The university says it has six different groups looking into matters related to Felner. But our own review indicates the university did not have tight grip on Felner's spending.

"This is something UofL drove. This is something UofL continues to work with the feds on," said John Drees, University of Louisville spokesman.

Since June, federal investigators have been looking into Robert Felner, the former dean of the College of Education and Human Development.

Felner is accused of mishandling close to $700,000 worth of grant money.

"And we look forward to a conclusion. We hope it's not too far down the road," said Drees.

The university is conducting internal reviews of matters related to Felner. An internal audit of the finances of the college of education is complete, but more audits are expected. It is not known which financial records were scrutinized.

But Felner's credit card receipts obtained by Fox 41 News indicate he spent lavishly with the university's approval. In the six months we reviewed from January to June of 2008, Felner charged more than $46,000 on university credit cards.

Some costs were supplies. But others included $400 dinners at Jack Frys, Mitchell's Fish Market and Proof on Main. And thousands more were spent on tickets, hotels, and dinners at the University Club.

A university spokesman says Robert Felner recently paid back about $4000 worth of charges he made on university credit cards because they were inappropriate. They were personal expenses.

Moving expenses Felner charged to move to his new job at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside; a job he later recused himself from once the federal investigation began.

A external audit of the universities grant practices is underway. So is a review of how grievances are filed. And other groups are looking into the university's managerial practices. And finally, a committee is investigating a doctoral degree that might have been improperly awarded during Felner's tenure.

"So as you can see that we are attacking this issues from several directions but we had one goal: to prevent incidents like these reported at the college of education from happening again," said Drees.

There was some concern the Felner matter could hurt the university's accreditation. But a university spokesman says that is not the case. US Attorney David Huber has said the federal investigation could wrap up by October.

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