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USM reacts to investigation of Foundation

HATTIESBURG — University of Southern Mississippi (USM) officials are working with the newly appointed University of Southern Mississippi Research Foundation board of directors and the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) on a review of some actions approved by the previous Research Foundation Board.

In a statement, USM president Martha Saunders said, “In 2009, the IHL established new policies relating to the operation of university foundations. To comply with those policies, I reorganized the USM Research Foundation Board of Directors and appointed new members.

“Upon reviewing some prior activities and upon advice of counsel, the new Board concluded that some previous actions may have violated IHL policies, and were not in the best interest of the USM Research Foundation or the university. The IHL, the Office of the State Auditor, the Mississippi Ethics Commission and the Office of the Attorney General have been made aware of and briefed on the initial findings.

“In an effort to correct any potential problems, I have 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.

“I was notified yesterday, April 15, 2010, that the state auditor will open an inquiry into this matter, as well.

“As litigation has already been initiated by the USM Research Foundation and additional litigation is possible, I am not at liberty to relate any specifics at this time.”

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