NIU will ask Walters to repay $32K that was improperly reimbursed for travel


Ron Walters, who provided consulting services to NIU President Doug Baker, discusses the Master Plan Thesis during a Feb. 9, 2014, Student Association Senate meeting. A Northern Star analysis found Walters was paid about $460,000 during 18 months of work at NIU and he was improperly reimbursed about $32,000 for travel expenses.

By Kelly Bauer

Former NIU employee Ron Walters will be asked to repay the $32,000 a state audit found he was improperly reimbursed for travel by the university.

Alan Phillips, vice president of Administration and Finance, told University Council on Wednesday the reimbursement error and other issues found in the state audit are being addressed. He said Walters will be asked to repay the $32,000 he was reimbursed for travel between his home in Washington and his work in DeKalb. 

Reimbursements cannot be made for travel between an employee’s home and headquarters, according to the state’s audit report. Phillips said the reimbursements were a significant error.

Though NIU officials had not previously confirmed the name of the employee who was improperly reimbursed $32,000, during University Council Baker referred to the employee as Walters, who did consulting work for NIU June 2013 to Dec. 31, 2014. Baker said reimbursements for Walters were set up before Baker was on campus and he has now learned they were not set up correctly.

The state’s audit also found NIU was starting work with companies before the companies had their contracts fully approved, which Phillips said was a significant error.

Phillips told University Council it is a “rare” to have an audit without findings and officials will revisit NIU’s policies and procedures to avoid future problems.

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