College Audited Behind Schedule
by Ferris Allen

Representatives of the embattled auditing firm Arthur Andersen will pay another round of visits to Oberlin next week, amidst some concerns from the Oberlin administration that the last audit — which occurred last week — was more than a little overdue.
“This audit usually takes place in the early fall,” Associate Vice President of Finance Ron Watts said.
Vice President of Finance Andy Evans expressed himself more bluntly, calling the timing of the audit “Unappreciated. [The audit] should have been done a long time ago.”
Dissatisfaction with Andersen stems from the March 26 completion of forms concerning Oberlin’s expenditures of federal awards, normally due April 1.
Oberlin administrators, who decided in February to drop Andersen amid continuing allegations of the firm’s role in the Enron collapse, say the tardy audit is only the final gesture of what has been an increasingly awkward relationship.
“Andersen doesn’t have a major non-profit client base,” Watts said. “Oberlin is Andersen’s only Cleveland area non-profit.”
About a year ago, “they changed their strategy,” Watts said, “to reduce non-profits. They wanted to limit their liability.”
Reduced liability would free Andersen from responsibility for accounting irregularities at Oberlin.
“We didn’t like that,” Watts said.
Arthur Andersen declined to comment, citing a policy of never discussing specific client relationships.
Already struggling with the twin problems of debt and a shrinking endowment, finding a new auditor may be the simplest of Oberlin’s financial woes. The administration caused a controversy last week with the announcement of budget cuts that would, among other measures, eliminate up to 25 paid intern positions.
While noting student, staff and faculty concerns, the College emphasized the need to reduce spending. “We have to be more conservative in our expenditures,” Evans said.
Evans said part of this conservation might come in the area of financial aid.
“We have to take a few more people who are willing to pay,” he said. “If they are admissible.” Evans further assured that any changes in class demographics would have “zero impact on the quality of the class,” although an exact plan to balance student need with other admissions factors is still in the works.

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