Board of Trustees: Audit plans, presidential powers and potential leases for downtown

Alan Vargas

The UNF Board of Trustees met on Monday, July 16 to discuss and vote on a number of important agenda items. The Office of Internal Auditing (OIA), Office of the General Counsel (OGC), Division of Administration of Finance (A&F) and President Szymanski each presented and answered questions for the Board.

OIA Director Julia Hann presented the office’s two-year plan for the University’s risk-based audit program. Hann explained the process for determining the focus of the audit to the board.

“I stay in touch with different partners across campus and, when I’m looking at industry hot topics, I’m looking at the Association of College University Auditors,” Hann told the Board.

Hann proposed to audit a total of 11 University areas over the next two years, such as the School of Engineering and the Florida Institute of Education.

On top of the schedule audits, the Florida Board of Governors has requested that the OIA review and verify the Board of Trustee’s report on performance-based funding each year. The OIA proposal also referred to a number of “additional areas which were considered in OIA’s risk assessment but given a lower priority due to limited available resources to review at this time.” These areas included University Housing and the President’s Office, among others.

The Board unanimously approved the proposed audit plan.

Vice President and General Counsel Karen Stone then presented an updated “Delegation of Presidential Authority,” which is a document that transfers some of the Board of Trustees’ powers to President Szymanski.

“What we’re doing is just updating [the delegation] to reflect Dr. Szymanki’s assumption of leadership as the University President, with his May 31 contract start date,” Stone explained to the Board. “The other thing we did, which was considered a best practice, was remove the name of a specific president, so, if we have a transition, then it continues on with that role.”

The Board voted to approve the changes unanimously.

Next, A&F Vice President Shari Shuman proposed opening a new investment account with the Florida Cooperative Liquid Assets Securities System, or FLCLASS, due to new restrictions on the existing investment account.

SPIA began requiring a minimum balance equal to 60 percent of the prior three-month balance, which forces the University to draw from long-term investments when cash needs arise. Shuman’s proposal would open a new account with FLCLASS, which offers a higher interest rate and no floor.

“They are all very much secure, conservative investments that would be able to be turned liquid in a day’s notice,” Shuman said when asked about the new investment accounts risk.

Shuman also presented the Board with a document comparing the various lease proposals for UNF’s future downtown classrooms.

The leading proposal, located at the Barnett National Bank building on West Adams Str., will charge rent of $7 per square foot for the first three years of the lease. According to the comparison document, the total rent for 13,306 square feet of downtown office space for the first five years would be $971,338.

Some Board members expressed concern regarding naming rights for the building and the potential for UNF’s downtown presence. There was no vote on the comparison as President Szymanki will have the final say on the downtown campus.

Finally, Szymanski addressed the Board to discuss his visit to the Florida Board of Governors.

The BoG assesses each public state university on a number of metrics and ranks them annually. According to the 2018 report, UNF is last out of 11 public universities in Florida. Szymanski went before the BoG to present the University’s plan to increase its rankings.

“I think we have some great leadership in place and they’re sitting around the table,” Szymanski affirmed. “I think we have had the right conversations and the right kinds of meetings. It’s about coalescing with people and focusing on the future.”

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