- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 7, 2003

The top financial executive of the University of the District of Columbia is quitting, the latest setback for a cash-strapped school plagued by recurring maintenance problems and led by a president who is the subject of an ethics probe.

UDC President William L. Pollard issued a news release yesterday evening announcing the resignation of Earl Cabbell, the school’s vice president of management, after The Washington Times made inquires in the morning about Mr. Cabbell’s decision to quit.

Mr. Cabbell gave notice Monday; his last day at UDC will be Nov. 15.

The resignation came as Mr. Pollard prepared for his appearance today at an oversight hearing before the D.C. Council’s education committee.

Committee members have expressed concerns about Mr. Pollard’s leadership and plan to question him thoroughly today about how he has spent university money, said an aide in the office of D.C. Council member Kevin P. Chavous, the chairman of the committee.

Mr. Pollard has “raised a lot of eyebrows,” said Dennis Campbell, clerk of the committee. “That’s why this performance oversight hearing will focus on spending and some of the decisions that have been made.”

Mr. Pollard has been criticized in his first year at UDC by faculty, students and the D.C. Council for his spending priorities — such as using more than $215,000 to renovate his university residence even as the school’s classrooms and library fell into disrepair. He also has been accused of hiring friends for high-paying jobs.

The D.C. Office of Campaign Finance is investigating whether Mr. Pollard violated ethics rules in hiring family friend Wilhelmina M. Reuben-Cooke as the school’s new vice president of academic affairs. The investigation follows reports that first appeared July 11 in The Times that Mrs. Reuben-Cooke apparently lacks the experience and education required for her $137,000-a-year job and may have received preferential treatment in the hiring process.

Of the five vice presidents at UDC, Mr. Cabbell was the only executive whose tenure predated Mr. Pollard’s presidency.

A friend of Mr. Cabbell said he had quit out of dissatisfaction with Mr. Pollard’s management. “He loved higher education, he loved the university,” said the friend, who asked not to be identified. “He would have stayed.”

Mr. Cabbell did not return calls yesterday seeking comment.

In the news release, Mr. Cabbell said: “Although you never look forward to leaving an institution such as the University of the District of Columbia, I take a large measure of satisfaction in leaving the university in good financial condition.”

The school administration credited Mr. Cabbell with securing clean audits and balanced budgets for the two years he held the job. The news release also pointed out that the university had a clean audit and balanced budget the year before Mr. Cabbell arrived.

“He’s done a wonderful job for the university and the citizens of the District,” Mr. Pollard said in the release. “I hate to see him leave, but I’m delighted that he didn’t resign as he’d previously planned to do in September 2002. His leadership was crucial to me in my first year as president.”

Mr. Cabbell is expected to take a job in another D.C. agency, according to the release.

He tried to quit again in early summer, but was convinced to stay after the UDC Board of Trustees rallied behind him. The board treasurer, Hazel Broadnax, threatened to step down if Mr. Cabbell left the administration, said a source close to the trustees.

Mrs. Broadnax did not return calls seeking comment.

George C. Willie, a board member, said Mr. Cabbell’s exit was a setback for the university but shouldn’t be viewed as a “bad reflection” on the school administration.

“His shoes are going to be very, very difficult to fill,” Mr. Willie said. “I think he will be very, very, very missed.”

Mr. Cabbell, a certified public accountant with bachelor’s degrees in accounting and finance from New York University, became the financial manager at UDC after serving a year as the District’s interim chief financial officer when Anthony A. Williams quit the post to run for mayor in 1998.

D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi, who has worked closely with Mr. Cabbell, said the resignation would hurt UDC.

He said he admired Mr. Cabbell’s “honesty, integrity, hard work and dedication to the city.”

Mr. Cabbell has held top financial posts for city governments in Detroit and Baltimore and for the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Before tackling government jobs, Mr. Cabbell was director of accounting for Coca-Cola’s northeast region from 1981 to 1990, senior financial analyst for plastics company Celanese Corp. in New York from 1977 to 1981 and senior auditor for the international accounting firm Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. in New York from 1975 to 1977.

A staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force from 1965 to 1969, Mr. Cabbell served a yearlong tour in the Vietnam War and was decorated with the Bronze Star.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide