USM foundation under scrutiny from State Auditor’s Office


The state auditor is reviewing decisions made by the former University of Southern Mississippi Research Foundation, officials said Friday.

USM President Martha Saunders released a statement saying the university is working with the state College Board and several elected officials “on a review of some actions approved by the previous Research Foundation Board.” In 2009 the College Board approved new policies relating to university foundations, and Saunders appointed a new Research Foundation Board of Directors.

“Upon reviewing some prior activities and upon advice of counsel, the new board concluded that some previous actions may have violated (Institutions of Higher Learning) policies and were not in the best interest of the USM Research Foundation or the university,” Saunders said.

The College Board, state auditor, Ethics Commission and the attorney general all have been notified of what the current board discovered. Saunders said she could not release any more details because of possible lawsuits.

Lisa Shoemaker, spokeswoman for State Auditor Stacey Pickering, confirmed that Pickering is conducting an inquiry.

“We’ve got some information we want to verify and that will determine whether or not we will open an investigation,” she said.

In the statement, Saunders said she already has “initiated several remedial measures pertaining to university employees. The newly formed board has hired outside legal and accounting experts to assist in conducting its inquiry and to take additional appropriate action.”

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