ECU dean resigns after critical state audit

Posted August 16, 2011 4:15 p.m. EDT
Updated August 16, 2011 5:19 p.m. EDT

— The dean of East Carolina University's new School of Dental Medicine resigned Tuesday, hours after a state audit questioned his travel expenses.

Dr. James Hupp will remain on the ECU faculty, Chancellor Steve Ballard said in a statement, and an interim dean will be named as soon as possible.

Hupp was hired in 2008 to launch the dental school, and the first 52 students started classes this month.

A state audit released Tuesday morning called for the university to tighten up its financial controls after paying for extensive travel by dental school officials with little or no documentation to support it.

The audit cited trips by Hupp to Kiawah Island, S.C., Destin, Fla., Germany and Switzerland. The overseas trips had questionable value for ECU, auditors said, while the trip to South Carolina included no itinerary or other records to back up the reimbursement and the Florida trip included "significant changes" after the travel was approved.

In addition to the audit's findings, Ballard said, Hupp failed to comply with reporting requirements for income he received from a part-time teaching assignment at another university and from serving as the editor of a scholarly journal.

"We absolutely must address these reporting issues," Ballard said in a statement. "While we do that, the mission, the facilities, and the plans for the School of Dental Medicine are all intact and robust, and the school remains one of our proudest and most important initiatives."

Hupp told the chancellor that he didn't want to become a distraction as the dental school gets off the ground, Ballard said.