Capital improvements focus of state's Temple University audit

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Pennsylvania's chief financial watchdog has launched an audit of Temple University focusing largely on the public institution's capital improvement projects and tuition rates.

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said when announcing the audit last week that the move is designed to assure that the Philadelphia-based university is adequately controlling costs so that the school can remain affordable for middle-class families. DePasquale has conducted previous audits of Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh.

“This audit will, among other things, examine Temple’s efforts to control costs and hold the line on tuition increases,” said DePasquale in a statement. “If a university — especially a state-related university — is not properly using state money then current and future students are forced to pay higher tuition or forgo a college education altogether.”

DePasquale said the audit will tackle Temple’s tuition rates and capital projects. The audit, which will begin from the June 2016 period, will also examine the university’s accuracy of academic statistics, background clearances for employees and effectiveness of its sexual harassment prevention policy.

Temple pitched plans in January for a new on-campus football stadium that would be partly funded through the bond market.

DePasquale said at his Thursday press conference that the stadium would be covered by the audit. The auditor general, a Democrat, said he is opposed to the university using any public money for the $130 million multipurpose facility, which would also house new classrooms, research and retail space. Ken Kaiser, Temple's chief financial officer, also said at the press conference beside DePasquale that no taxpayer dollars would be used for the proposed stadium.

Temple has bond ratings of Aa3 from Moody’s Investors Service and A-plus from S&P Global Ratings. Moody’s revised Temple’s outlook to stable from negative in 2017 on $680 million of outstanding revenue bonds issued through Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development and Pennsylvania Higher Educational Facilities Authority citing improved operating performance.

The Pennsylvania Auditor General’s Office last conducted an audit of Temple in 2011. The public research university enrolls nearly 40,000 students.

“We look forward to working with the Auditor General on his regularly scheduled audit,” said Temple spokesman Ray Betzner.

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Higher education bonds Temple University Pennsylvania