Daily Egyptian

SIU chancellor used university money to move daughter’s home

Chancellor+Carlo+Montemagno+poses+for+a+portrait+Monday%2C+Aug.+28%2C+2017%2C+in+Anthony+Hall.+%28Brian+Mu%C3%B1oz+%7C+%40BrianMMunoz%29
Chancellor Carlo Montemagno poses for a portrait Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Anthony Hall. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Chancellor Carlo Montemagno poses for a portrait Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Anthony Hall. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Chancellor Carlo Montemagno poses for a portrait Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Anthony Hall. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Anna Spoerre, Staff Reporter

One of the households SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno moved with university money was one in which his daughter and son-in-law lived.

SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith confirmed that Montemagno’s daughter and son-in-law lived in the second home, which she defined as a “furnished rental.”

Montemagno has since refunded SIU $11,146.42 for the part of the moving cost of the second household initially covered by the university. He also paid $4,930.03 upfront to the moving company after exceeding the $61,000 in moving expenses allotted to him by the university, Goldsmith said. This brings the total cost of moving the second household to $16,076.45.

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On Thursday, the chancellor released a statement regarding a “misunderstanding” related to moving expenses gathered to move the two homes, which were located on the same block.

This announcement was made “in the interest of transparency,” the statement read.

On Feb. 2, the Daily Egyptian filed a Freedom of Information Act requesting documents related to the chancellor’s moving expenses. On Feb. 9, SIU’s FOIA office requested a five-day-extension and released the documents on Friday.

Montemagno’s original employment contract of $61,000 in moving expenses was meant to cover “actual costs of expenses related to moving and storage, if needed, of household, personal, and professional office possessions from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to Carbondale, Illinois,” the contract read.

“The amount agreed to in his contract anticipated inclusion of his personally owned laboratory equipment which the chancellor desired to donate to the University,” SIU President Randy Dunn said Tuesday.

Dunn said he was not aware of the second home at the time of contract negotiations, but that the “misunderstanding” was addressed with Montemagno’s reimbursement to the university.

Amy Sholar, chair of SIU’s Board of Trustees, said she had an expectation during contract negotiations that the money would be used for one household, adding that when contracts are negotiated, there is an attempt to be as clear as possible.

“What was to be included in the contracted amount was not part of a detailed listing, so there was a misunderstanding about what could be covered in the move,” Thursday’s statement from Montemagno read. The original announcement, made “in the interest of transparency,” can be found on the chancellor’s blog.

The readjusted final moving cost following contract guidelines is $49,853.58, according to a moving invoice. This covers the cost of moving just one household.

A final decision has not been made regarding the pending move of Montemagno’s lab equipment —which he said he intends to donate to SIU.

“At some future point, the SIU Board of Trustees may take a separate vote on providing funding for moving the laboratory equipment after they review what the equipment is, its potential utilization by SIUC scientists and researchers, and the appropriate facilities to house the equipment,” Dunn said.   

This conversation comes less than a month after the Daily Egyptian reported Montemagno’s daughter and son-in-law were hired into positions that they never formally applied for and that were never advertised.

Montemagno’s appointment was approved by the Board of Trustees on July 13. On July 24, Montemagno sent his daughter’s resume to Goldsmith, according to documents obtained by the Daily Egyptian. Two weeks later Melissa Germain signed her new contract, making her assistant director of university communications. Jeffrey Germain’s civil service contract was signed Sept. 28.

Before coming to SIU, the Germains worked at Montemagno’s Ingenuity Lab at the University of Alberta.

At least four individuals with whom Montemagno previously worked interviewed for positions or were brought to campus for consideration since his appointment.

On February 1, SIU’s Office of Internal Audit, Compliance and Ethics opened two inquiries related to the hirings of Chancellor Carlo Montemagno’s daughter and son-in-law, as well as the searches involving previous coworkers.

“I welcome a review of faculty hiring and system-approved employee hiring at SIU,” Montemagno said in a Feb. 1 statement. “I have not had nor will I have any role in hiring or supervising the employees and faculty members in question. It is my understanding that these hirings were done in compliance with SIU policies.”

The agreement to allow for family hiring was made verbally since Dunn and the General Counsel deemed it inappropriate to put in the written contract.

The inquiries have since been taken to the state level and are under investigation by the Illinois Office of the Executive Inspector General as of Feb. 2.

The decision to pass the inquiries on to the state level was made to ensure an independent review, SIU President Randy Dunn said. The inquiries are still under review.

Staff writer Anna Spoerre can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @annaspoerre.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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17 Comments

17 Responses to “SIU chancellor used university money to move daughter’s home”

  1. Cathy Lilley on February 20th, 2018 5:13 pm

    I wondered about the ‘second’ household. It all makes sense now. Is the Chancellor’s contract for just one year? I doubt it.

  2. Bradley Skelcher on February 20th, 2018 6:23 pm

    It is time to begin looking for a new Chancellor and quickly.

  3. Victor E. Roy on February 20th, 2018 7:06 pm

    It is very interesting that this “misunderstanding” was discovered after a freedom of information act request was made. It was also interested that the university asked for an extension.

  4. Shahram on February 20th, 2018 8:08 pm

    This is so unfortunate how political this university has become. We hired someone to change us for better, someone with strong resume, but we refuse to give up anything for the collective interest of the university. I am afraid if this attitude continues, nothing can rescue SIU.

  5. Greg Todd on February 20th, 2018 11:33 pm

    How did his moves cost $61,000? Take a look at the itemized expenses. I’ve moved the contents of large homes and vehicles cross country more than once. I never paid as much as $20k. I think there is more stink to come off of this scandal. Excellent reporting, Anna.

  6. Kratos God of War on February 21st, 2018 8:40 am

    By the old gods and the new, what is the issue with the lab equipment?

    Not enough space?

  7. Paul Jones on February 21st, 2018 9:32 am

    This is a drop in the bucket to what he has done in the past. He is bad news when it comes to his spending and hiring of “family” for his “research”.

  8. EJ Rotert on February 21st, 2018 10:15 am

    Keeps getting better. This apparently morally-bankrupt joke of a chancellor needs to be out.

  9. Shahram on February 21st, 2018 10:18 am

    He moved several millions of dollars worth of equipment from his lab to SIU. That is why the cost was higher.

  10. Chet F Anderson on February 21st, 2018 12:57 pm

    What does Shahram mean by “unfortunate?” What is truly unfortunate is the hiring of someone who showed promise in his ability to turn SIU-C around and then having the entire selection process subverted by someone who immediately began gaming the system to his own benefit. Welcome to Illinois, Dr. Montenegro, you already fit right in.

  11. Justin Johnson on February 21st, 2018 12:59 pm

    Is it possible for the media to convey a story without such blatant bias? The title of this article itself is sufficient to cause so many ignorant people to immediately jump to conclusions regarding the Chancellor. Painting these funds as “university money” approaches misrepresentation, as they were clearly funds allocated to the Chancellor in his employment contract, and to the extent necessary, were rightfully his. There seems to be an indication that the contact would have covered at least a part of the second household, as being a furnished rental, at least party of the personal property belonged to the Chancellor. Who can blame him for negotiating this allocation and then using it in a manner which isn’t unambiguously inconsistent with the intent of the parties. That was a component of his benefit of the bargain for his employment and he should not be criticized for using it. What seems to me to be more of an issue is the fact that the board would permit such a large allocation in the employment contract to begin with, especially in light of the recent financial state of the university. However, this may be industry norm, or a sacrifice that the board found necessary in order to obtain a Chancellor whom they felt would assist in remedying many of the university’s problems. I don’t know the details, and therefore I refuse to jump to calls for employee termination and the like. People, this media outlet obviously hasn’t it out for the Chancellor, which has been made apparent from various articles such as this, his daughter’s employment, and his proposal for the creation of a school of homeland security. This outlet has gone as far as calling the creation of a police training school a “danger” to the university, and even suggesting that such would have the opposite effect of making the world a better place. Daily Egyptian, stop exploiting the ignorance of many to further your political agenda, and report some unbiased articles.

  12. Bob Springer ('77) on February 21st, 2018 2:55 pm

    Great reporting, Anna. And great coverage on this guy. Have you looked at his checkered past, regarding Youngstown State University?

  13. Clare McCall on February 21st, 2018 2:57 pm

    Were I, at this time, a student, a graduate student, a professor, a professional secretary, an administrator (or a worker in food service or a janitorial worker or a groundskeeper) I would never CHOOSE to work for or study at or teach at an institution that permits such a charlatan of a chancellor to continue to hold the reins of power here following the revelation of his deceptive practices and immoral actions. He should resign now before he brings even more shame to this fine university. I’m ashamed simply to live in a university town blighted by the scandal connected to this chancellor.

  14. Ken on February 23rd, 2018 9:01 am

    Monemagno came into the University of Alberta and managed to piss away millions and millions of dollars with no result. Hope you like snake oil.

  15. NC on February 26th, 2018 8:40 pm

    “The readjusted final moving cost following contract guidelines is $49,853.58, according to a moving invoice. This covers the cost of moving just one household. ”

    Moving one household at the cost of $50K?
    It usually costs about $6 – $10K.
    This also needs to be investigated.

  16. David Rossi on February 27th, 2018 9:06 am

    I don’t see what the big deal is. The Chancellor is human. It was a misunderstanding that the Chancellor rectified by refunding around $11K. The university got its money back. If anything, bringing this to the public’s attention to stir up controversy is what amounts to fake news. It’s not particularly newsworthy. All you nay-sayers should just let the man do his job and he could do his job if students, faculty, and staff stop questioning him. Everyone needs to support him and carry out his directives. Nothing can get done if you have to stop and question everything.

  17. James Smith on March 20th, 2018 10:46 am

    nep·o·tism
    ˈnepəˌtizəm/
    noun
    noun: nepotism

    The practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.

    THAT is the problem with hiring the chancellor, or at least keeping him employed. SIU should NEVER 1) have allowed the chancellor, indirectly or directly, to have his daughter and son-in-law hired as part of either a written or verbal agreement, 2) NEVER allowed for funds to go to moving his daughter’s house (even if it was “furnished”), and 3) now that this has all come out, it’s clear that Randy Dunn, in stating that “in the future” we will make sure to have everything in writing, is allowing for unethical behavior to be condoned, at least in the case of Montemagno, at a financial, political, and reputational cost. This is unacceptable, under ANY circumstances.

    Montemagno’s daughter was also NOT the most highly qualified person applying for the job, not by a long shot. I know someone who applied for the role who was much more qualified. This is saying nothing against the Chancellor’s daughter; it’s simply stating a fact. But Montemagno’s daughter has only ever been employed by Montemagno at Ingenuity Lab (which he founded and where he was Ingenuity Lab’s Director and Principle Investigator), and where she was promoted from her role as a copywriter to Director in 2 years. However worthy of that promotion, she was NOT the most highly-qualifed person to apply for the role she currently holds at SIU.

    That Randy Dunn is complicit in this egregious misuse of SIU’s funds is appalling, but so is Chancellor Montemagno’s abuse of his power. Where are the ethics here? Where are the morals? Watching the higher-ups at the university that were involved in Montemagno’s hiring and subsequent looking away/ignoring of his (and Randy Dunn’s and the hiring committee’s) behavior is shameful. There is never an okay time to put aside your ethics. EVER.

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