190828_GMA_GreekLifeOffice

The Greek Life Office is located on the first floor of the Tate Student Center on the University of Georgia’s campus in Athens, Georgia. The university issued a statement on Aug. 26, 2019 announcing an investigation into the misappropriation of funds from student organizations and updated the statement on Aug. 27 to reveal that the “criminal activity” had been traced back to one now-deceased university employee. (Photo/Gabriella Audi, www.gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-1)

The University of Georgia is changing its policy surrounding employee access of non-university bank accounts, according to an administrative memo circulated on Sept. 3.

“Effective August 29,2019, employees of the University of Georgia are strictly prohibited from acting as a signatory on the private bank account of any of the University’s student organizations,” the memo reads.

The policy notes that “acting as a signatory” includes “actions commonly associated with control and/or access to a bank account,” such as deposits and withdrawals, writing checks, electronic banking or authorizing card payments.

More broadly, the policy prevents UGA employees from acting as a signatory on accounts held by “any legal organization other than the university,” though with several exceptions.

The first exception regards accounts held by University Cooperative Organizations, such as the UGA Foundation or the UGA Athletic Association. UGA employees can act as a signatory authority if their “written job duties include ... financial and banking responsibilities,” the policy said.

The second exception allows employees to be signatories on accounts held by organizations that are affiliated with UGA if their Dean or Vice President approves that employee’s signatory power in writing.

Finally, employees can hold signatory power on accounts held by organizations not affiliated with UGA if “the employee is acting in a personal capacity and does not hold himself or herself out as acting on behalf of the university or ... the employee is engaging in an approved secondary responsibility,” such as serving as treasurer for an academic journal. The employee still must receive approval from their Dean or Vice President.

The change comes in the wake of recent revelations that a now-deceased employee in UGA’s Greek Life Office stole more than $1.3 million in funds from student organizations over the past decade. Funds were stolen from the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council and UGA Miracle.

Lasina Evans, the administrative assistant who stole the money, killed herself in June when financial discrepancies were first discovered. The investigation into the theft resulted in the departure of longtime GLO Director Claudia Shamp and Assistant Director and Advisor to the Panhellenic Council Elizabeth Pittard.

Investigators determined the two supervisors did not provide proper financial oversight and failed to set budgets or review bank statements. This lack of oversight allowed Evans to steal funds through means including ATM withdrawals, check deposits and debit card purchases, investigators found.

An Aug. 26 statement on the theft from UGA spokesperson Greg Trevor said UGA had taken steps in response to the matter including “revision of University policy governing employee access and control of outside accounts held by student organizations.”

Trevor confirmed on Sept. 5 that this new policy was part of said revisions.

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