Bethune-Cookman Trustees Could Face Personal Liability in Construction Scandal

The Daytona Beach News-Journal outlines a new set of details in the years-long scandal involving a construction deal, bad contracts and potentially insurmountable debt for the private university which could place members of its board of trustees at risk for class action lawsuits.

A letter obtained by the News-Journal and verified by BCU officials as written by its strategic counsel lead to trustees illustrates potential board negligence in the approval and amendment of contracts which resulted in $25 million in unaccounted spending by the university and a student center which was never constructed. From the Journal:

For example, while the project was supposed to cost $60-$68 million, the letter states that the final bill totaled $85 million, leaving up to $25 million unaccounted for. Further, plans called for the developer to build a student center — which later disappeared from board-approved plans — only to reappear later as a separate proposal from the same developer.

The story continues:

According to Dudley’s letter, here’s how it happened: In a note to trustees, Gonsalves asked the board to approve the contract with TG Quantum, develop a campus master plan, and begin construction on a 1,200-bed student residence hall and other “ancillary student amenities.”

The note called for 200 more beds. More importantly, it swapped the words “student center” for “student amenities” — and its approval meant the difference between students having an entire new building or a set of new lounge chairs.

The board’s ignorance of the changes was evident at a finance committee meeting later that month. There, trustee Larry Handfield, the first B-CU alumnus to serve as board chairman a few years earlier, said he hoped students would be involved with decisions on the student union.

The letter concludes with an ominous warning to trustees about potential risk to their personal finances and assets as a result of gross mismanagement of the project.

“I am concerned that the board has great exposure at this point. Be advised the students could file a class action suit against the university and the board based on the foregoing,” she wrote. “If this occurs … a legitimate point of concern would be whether you are personally exposed and therefore would have no coverage for legal expense but have personal assets also be at risk if it is determined that your decision making and or involvement in the dorm transaction is found to constitute a breach of your fiduciary duties.”

Sharon King Dudley, B-CU’s vice president of strategic counsel via the Daytona Beach News -Journal

Last week, BCU officials revealed a strategic framework for addressing its accreditation issues, while not specifically providing details or resolutions to the faulty dorm deal which could cost the university more than $300 million and potentially collapse the institution.

6 thoughts on “Bethune-Cookman Trustees Could Face Personal Liability in Construction Scandal

  1. There should be some personal accountability for making decisions that hurt any HBCU. Its bad enough our school are underfunded and face racist state policies designed to financially starve our schools. So when decision makers help them out they should be punished and face the same civil liabilities a corporate administrator would

  2. Agreed.Bad Boards allow Bad Presidents to lead making bad decisions and the students and parents are hurt. Make them all pay it back. Hold public and private’s accountable. Ignorant Board members need to pay it back.

  3. First of all you need to know who all the key players were in the mismanagement of the funding. It was more than one person. Does anyone ever wonder why Charles thomas owner of greeknalia in Daytona moved his store from orange ave to international speedway? He will tell you that his move was completely based upon location availability . That is a lie. This guy was involved in the scandal . He lived in subsidized housing as a business owner for years. Subsidized housing is for the poor and handicap or financially struggling who are living below a certain financial range. On top of that deals were made in secret between Mr. Thomas , Edison Jackson , and several others with the Mayor and city officials.Its sad because these so called fraternally tied men are so called leaders in the Black community. If you think that Judge Grimes does not know what happened to the missing money you are a fool. Brothers and sisters we need to wake up and stop being hoodwinked and bamboozeled by these pretenders in our community. The whole plan was for a select few to benefit from the dorm deals . Mr. Thomas figured once the dorms were opened he would be right on international blvd and would be less than a quater mile from the new student dorms. Joke was on him because the deal did not fall through as all expected . The owner of one of our night clubs on mlk was tricked into believing the dorm deal was real and sold his property for a tax deal from the city. The whole deal was a hoax . The question is when will the FBi investigate and indict the guilty parties. If this was a white university they would be all over it. They do not care about us. I am boycotting greeknalia and i suggest we all stop making the Man who participated in Robbing our community wealthy. Where will his business be if cookman goes bankrupt. There will be alot of Masons and greek members mad about my post but do your own research. Study the facts. Read between the lines. The smoothest criminals in our communities are the ones who pose as leaders and pretend to be for black unity and we are fooled by their smooth talking and public image. Be a thinker , use your own mind. This is only food for thought . i promise you there is alot more to this than i have reveales. The use of secret organisations to undermine and rob the black community is nothing new. When the FBI destroyed the Black panthers how do you think they did it. They sent people who looked like us . wake up my people. I love you and pray that justice is brought forth. Babylon has held us down for 400 years. Their art is to conceal not to reveal. Expose them and drive them out of our communities. Stay tuned more to come. I have documents , minutes from meetings at city hall. Ect i have kept all things. Charles Thomas payed his cronies to cover his store purchase he boasted it was $ 250, 000. This is the same guy who lived in subsidized housing in hollyhill fla 15th street. Come on people smell the coffee. We have to stop making excuses for these imposters . they sound good, they talk smooth, they know all the right things to say. In the end they have together destroyed a legacy That Dr Bethune dedicated her life to build.

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