SIU chancellor used university money to move daughter’s home

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SIU chancellor used university money to move daughter’s home

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)

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.

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