Why the redacted pages in WSU audit?

Trustees say they are committed to transparency despite hidden information in audit.

Wright State University trustees touted their release Friday of a long-guarded audit as a statement that they are “committed to transparency,” but hundreds of pages of the report are redacted and they still refuse to release other records related to the audit.

The public university paid the forensic accounting firm Plante Moran more than $360,000 for the detailed review of numerous oversight failures and potential misdeeds in its research funding operation. The final report is dated October 2016 but trustees refused for months to release it under Ohio public records law, claiming it was exempt from disclosure under attorney-client privilege.

They reversed course last week, voting to release the full 872 pages of audit and supporting documents. But approximately 335 pages are completely blacked out and more than 130 additional pages had information that was partially redacted, a Dayton Daily News examination of the audit found.

RELATED: Audit questions bonuses, contracts between WSU and tech firm

Some of the information not released were bank account numbers and employee ID numbers while other records are protected by a nondisclosure agreement or prohibited from being released by state law, Wright State attorneys said. Lawyers for WSU also cited revised code that protects the release of “trade secrets.”

The audit redactions illustrate a lack of transparency on issues at Wright State, said Marty Kich, a Lake Campus professor and president of WSU’s American Association of University Professors.

“I think it creates a continuous issue with public perception,” Kich said.

Michael Bridges, chairman of WSU’s board of trustees, defended the redactions.

All of them were made by the university’s attorneys and none were directed by the board, Bridges said. Trustees said they wanted to release the audit to move on from the university’s past scandals and to make the school more transparent.

“The purpose of this was to use it constructively, to move the university to a higher place,” Bridges said.

RELATED: Kasich’s office: WSU leadership was ‘cultivating a regime of secrecy’

Release of the audit was done to build trust on campus, said Doug Fecher, vice chairman of the board. There have been too many instances when “constituencies on campus” were unaware of what was going on at their own school, he said.

“When you don’t know why things are going on it creates a mistrust,” Fecher said. “I think a public university ends up with a better perception when it’s transparent.”

Some records still withheld

Misuse of temporary work visas, conflicts of interest and lacking financial controls were among concerns cited in the audit.

Trustees say the administration pushed back on some of the findings but are refusing to release those written objections, saying those too are protected under attorney-client privilege.

Bridges said the objections are what you would expect considering the nature of some of the audit’s findings.

“When you challenge the administration with an audit, there is never a time when they’re not going to take issue with something,” Bridges said.

WSU’s audit was conducted by a private firm. If the Ohio Auditor’s office had conducted a financial compliance audit, the responses would be public, said Ben Marrison, spokesman for the state auditor.

RELATED: LexisNexis one of 4 area companies linked to WSU visa misuse probe

More than 80 students and faculty protested at the Friday meeting where trustees unanimously approved the audit’s release. Some of the signs held by the students said, “Release the audit.”

Max Carone, who helped organize the demonstration, said students “want all the information” instead of the bits and pieces they’ve gotten.

“That’s what transparency is,” he said. “It’s not giving us things when it’s convenient. It’s giving us what we need to know.”


Read WSU president’s testimony shedding light on federal probe

WSU implements budget cuts; trustee blames leadership

WSU sponsored visa for worker at trustee’s firm

SPECIAL REPORT: Lost Jobs; Importing foreign workers

Wright State ‘poster child’ for abuses of worker visa program

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Eliminations and changes to RTA routes go into effect
Eliminations and changes to RTA routes go into effect

The Greater Dayton RTA’s route changes, eliminations, and fare adjustments went into effect Sunday. RTA had a recent sales tax revenue loss that reduced its annual revenues by $4.6 million, according to Greater Dayton RTA’s Communications Manager Jessica Olson. According to Olson, the sales tax losses were a result of a federally-mandated...
More sun today, rain returns tomorrow
More sun today, rain returns tomorrow

There is a slight chance for some fog early, aside from more sunshine we’re looking forward to today.It’ll be a nice day but still a bit cool with highs in the middle 40s. More sun and nice today Rain returns Monday Chance for storms Tuesday night into early Wednesday TONIGHT: Clouds increase this evening and rain moves in...
Crash on I-75 south near I-70 leads to arrest
Crash on I-75 south near I-70 leads to arrest

A man was arrested after crashing into a wall on Interstate 75 around 11:20 p.m. Saturday. Derrick Woods, 33, of Columbus lost control of his truck when he took the southbound I-75 ramp from westbound I-70, according to Sgt. Robinson of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Woods’ truck was struck by another vehicle after the initial crash, Sgt. Robinson...
Student of the Week Shawnee High School
Student of the Week Shawnee High School

Name: Melanie Reynolds School: Shawnee High School Grade: 12 Age: 18 Extra-curricular: 4-H Camp Counselor Claim to fame/honors: Joining the U.S. Navy Words you live by: “Don’t let today’s troubles bring you down. Don’t let life’s little obstacles keep you from trying. Don’t let your fears keep you from dreaming....
Athlete of the Week Shawnee High School
Athlete of the Week Shawnee High School

Name: Scarlet Koelsch School: Shawnee High School Grade: 12 Age: 18 Sports: Volleyball, Swimming Claim to fame/honors: My parents Words you live by: “Nothing comes easy.” Toughest opponent: Myself Biggest influence: My dad Game-day rituals: Think over my goals What’s on your bedroom walls: Tapestry When I’m bored I like to &hellip...
More Stories