Friday, May 21, 2010

Former UofL Dean Robert Felner sentenced to more than five years in prison

This from the Courier-Journal:

Robert Felner, former University of Louisville dean of education, was sentenced on Monday to 63 months in prison for his role in defrauding U of L and the University of Rhode Island of $2.3 million.

Felner -- who was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson III in Louisville -- pleaded guilty in January to nine federal charges, including income tax evasion.

In addition to prison time, Felner must pay restitution of $510,000 to U of L, $1.64 million to the University of Rhode Island and $88,750 to the Rock Island County Council on Addiction in Illinois.

The plea agreement was reached with the U.S. attorney's office after Felner was indicted in October 2008 in Louisville on charges of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, income tax evasion and conspiracy to impede and impair the Internal Revenue Service. The charges against Felner carried a maximum penalty of 75 years in prison...

C-J Editorial sums it all up:

Felner's cautionary tale

Monday's sentencing of Robert Felner, former education dean at the University of Louisville, brings some degree of closure to a seamy, nationally embarrassing scandal.

However, the fact that Mr. Felner is going to prison is no cause for celebration at UofL. Nor is it merely an unpleasant episode that now should be forgotten.

To its credit, the university called in law enforcement authorities when it became obvious, some two years ago, that something was amiss in the education school.

But what followed was not the finest hour for President James Ramsey, who scoffed at the news in a TV interview about more than 30 grievances filed against Mr. Felner during his tenure. Calling the allegations “anonymous crap,” he said that the complaints showed him that the dean “was bringing about change that needed to be made.”

Change? Like granting an associate a Ph.D. after only one semester's residence in Louisville?Like running off solid faculty members whose complaints were given a deaf ear by the administration?

And change like stealing millions of dollars from UofL and the University of Rhode Island?It will take time, and a lot of obvious progress for the university to put all of this to rest.

Meanwhile, it should serve as a cautionary tale for many years to come. No official in a public institution should have the kind of unbridled discretion that Robert Felner enjoyed. And administrators eager to make rapid change should be wary of the cost that comes with such upheavals.

And Page One Kentucky has all the details.

KSN&C Backstory.


Anonymous said...

How fitting! I have utterly no sympathy for those who break the law and use their deanships for personal gain.

There is, indeed, justice in the USA.

Of course, when the first charges flew, I'm almost certain the University stood behind this man without question.

Isn't this the same college that bestowed PhDs in education to those who had not met residency requirements.

Shame on the University of Louisville.

Richard Day said...

First, it seems clear that UofL did a very poor job vetting Felner. URI had information to share, had they been asked. I think President Ramsey was blinded by what he hoped was true - that multiple complaints against Felner were merely the grumblings of poor faculty that needed to change and that Felner would keep bringing in the bucks.

That blindness allowed the story to get past Ramsey and he was playing catch up from day 1. Clearly, Jacob Payne @ Page One knew more about what was really going on than Ramsey did.

Yes, this is the school that bestowed an easy degree on John Deasy and had a grad student doing work for major contributor Sonny Bass's degree as well.

Interim Dean Blake Hesselton tells me that things have settled down now. And I see that they haven't been able to settle on a new dean yet. Maybe that means Ramsey really did learn a lesson, but who knows?

Anonymous said...

Deans like Felner are bad news. Let us not forget Dr. Cibulka at UK. His actions led to the resignations of two well-known professors in the EPE Department.

Anonymous said...

Dear Readers,

How can anyone have respect for the University of Louisville? First, there was the flap over the president's salary, and now we see clearly how enabled Dr. Felner was.

Honest readers know that the administration had more than inkling of what this man was up to. The buch always stops with the University president.

Sadly, there is the story we don't hear: how many good faculty members left Louisville because of Dr. Felner? We'll really never know, will we?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the 'legacy' of Felner goes on...dreams of becoming a 'big time' university still drive the administration at UofL to bully professors and continue the 'elite' and 'unwashed' dicotomy.

It is pathetic that the emphasis is upon big grants and not quality programming....they are NOT mutually exclusive and can be complimentary; however, the need for educators should drive the MISSION of a college of education much like the production of medical doctors is the primary task of medical schools.

Shame, shame UofL!!!