EL RENO — The Redlands Community College Board of Regents has called a special meeting Monday to discuss the college's current financial crisis and the possible termination, discipline or resignation of longtime Redlands President Larry Devane.
Devane, 67, told The Oklahoman on Friday that he has been president of Redlands for 24 years and at times has contemplated stepping down — perhaps at the end of the year — but did not ask for his job status to be placed on Monday's agenda for discussion.
Devane said he's not sure how the item was placed on the agenda because the agenda was not put together by his office like normal. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Regents Room at the college.
Devane has been on the hot seat ever since the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education released the results of an accounting firm's financial analysis of Redlands about two weeks ago.
The analysis by BKD LLP revealed the college owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid bills, including some dating back more than six months.
The report also revealed examiners had obtained notes from a computer file that raised concerns about university administrators' failure to obtain competitive bids or approval from Redlands' regents for a construction project involving the Darlington Annex, which cost more than $50,000.
The computer file notes allegedly were authored by former Redlands Vice President of Finance Karen Boucher, who died Feb. 1, examiners said.
State law requires that state construction projects in excess of $50,000 be competitively bid and prohibits bid splitting to circumvent the law. Higher education institutions are not exempt from the $50,000 limit, a spokeswoman for the higher education regents said.
The analysis released by regents did not include Boucher's alleged notes, but The Oklahoman subsequently obtained the notes from the state regents' office through an open records request.
The notes describe a series of meetings the author reportedly had with Devane and contractor Cody Tankersley in which the author said she repeatedly told them that competitive bids and regents' approval were required for the project because it was expected to cost more than $137,000.
She stated that Devane disagreed and that the president and contractor eventually worked out an arrangement for the construction to be done in four phases.
“We found RCC paid at least three invoices for the annex project and the total costs exceeded $50,000,” BKD reported. “Two of the invoices were issued in sequence on the same day.”
Devane said Friday that a “construction management process” was used and he believes he complied with the law.
Tankersley said he coordinated with Devane, and Devane determined how the project was done and billed.
“I provided estimates for every project,” Tankersley said, adding he didn't know if the college obtained estimates from others.
The BKD report questioned other aspects of the relationship between the college and Tankersley, noting that Tankersley was paid through Redlands' payroll while his construction company was paid through invoices.