New MCC head denies improprieties

H. Lynn Cundiff says accounting system caused allegations at Utah college

KINGMAN - H. Lynn Cundiff denies allegations of any impropriety in how some funds were spent during his tenure as president of Salt Lake Community College from August 2000 until May 2003.

Cundiff was awarded a five-year contract during the Mohave Community College Board of Governors meeting March 13 to become vice chancellor for administration effective Nov. 1, when Bill Lovejoy steps down from the position.

Cundiff presently is part owner of a food wholesale company in the Virgin Islands, where he has resided the past two years.

He spoke by telephone with the Miner on Thursday.

A story appearing April 29, 2003, in The Globe, the on-campus newspaper at SLCC, restated information printed in a Salt Lake Tribune story. It alleged the college misspent about $158,000 in state funds restricted for custom-designed employee training programs. In addition, the college allegedly took $236,460 from employer cash contributions from local businesses to train their employees, and due to accounting errors, later denied them training.

"Without laying anything anywhere, both of those matters had to do with accounting issues," Cundiff said. "The money was spent as it was supposed to be spent.

"State auditors did not like the way the college did its accounting and had been after the college for a number of years even before I got there to switch accounting procedures.

"The funds were in an account merged with other funds, and the auditors wanted to see them separated out by themselves. Nothing was misspent or lost."

A May 1, 2003, story appearing in the Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake states SLCC agreed to return $158,521 to the Utah College of Applied Technology to rectify misapplication of funds intended for Custom Fit training. The money is to be returned over a three-year period through reduced annual funding to the college.

SLCC agreed to return the money to satisfy state auditors and their accounting system, not because anything was done wrong, Cundiff said.

The Globe story reported that in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, SLCC Business Vice President Don Porter said, "I don't want to cast aspirations at the auditor, but I don't think he went as deep as he might have gone. All custom-fit funds were used for custom-fit purposes."

The difference between custom-fit funds and employer contributions is by state law the custom-fit funds must only be used for employee training, while employer contributions can be used to cover associated salaries and supplies. SLCC relied partly on employer contributions to fund training during a three-month period between the time the academic year ended and the fiscal year began, The Globe story went on to state.

The Globe story also reported allegations that Cundiff had "skirted the competitive bid process."

"That's not true," Cundiff said. "Every state has an option for sole-source bids if there is only one provider of services you're looking for. The college board of trustees approved the sole-source bid (that was called into question) by a 5-0 vote."

Cundiff holds a Ph.D from Southern Illinois University, a master's degree from Northeast Missouri State University and a bachelor's degree from William Jewell College. He served as a chief executive officer in the private sector for 12 years and as president of Floyd College in Georgia in addition to SLCC.

The job description under which he will work as vice chancellor for administration at MCC is still to be defined and should be developed in June or July, Cundiff said.

"I've known about MCC through national colleagues all the way from State Department people, who said a lot of good things were happening there," he said. "They said it would be a good fit for me and recommended talking with Chancellor (Thomas) Henry."

Cundiff was asked what he hopes will happen during the next five years at MCC.

"I would hope the college will continue to grow and serve students even better and more prolifically than they are now," he said. "I further hope systems and changes implemented before I get there will become part of college life and be used as the basis for further growth."