Two Former D&I Employees Told To Pay Back ‘Questionable’ Expenses

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Editor’s Note: delfin bautista uses they/them pronouns, and does not capitalize their name.

ATHENS — After an audit ordered by the Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion, two former employees of the department have been asked to pay back money or provide documentation for charges they were told were not for a “business purpose.”

delfin bautista

Former LGBT Center Director delfin bautista said they were asked to pay back $6,300 for “questionable” transactions. Alicia Chavira-Prado, formerly the special assistant to the vice provost for diversity and inclusion was asked to provide documentation and itemized receipts regarding transactions flagged in the internal audit, according to emails obtained by WOUB.

Chavira-Prado’s job was eliminated in August 2018, and bautista was told in January their contract would not be renewed.

The emails were sent by Tina Payne, OU’s Chief Finance & Administrative Officer. Chavira-Prado received the email January 30, and bautista said they received the email on Wednesday.

Chavira-Prado was asked for documentation for transactions totaling more than $400. All but one of the purchases was made in 2017.

The transactions included meals in Athens, and a field trip to the Hocking Hills Canoe Livery with the Ohio Reach Scholars.

Documentation was requested for a gift certificate to Follett’s Bookstore, listed as a “giveaway at (a) staff welcome luncheon.”

Payne cited university policy, saying the gift certificate transaction “lacked sufficient documentation, such as who received the gift or gift cards.”

“If you are not able to provide the information, reimbursement to the University will be necessary,” Payne wrote.

bautista was told to contact OU’s Office of Legal Affairs “to see what decision they make about payment arrangements,” they said in an email to WOUB.

The transactions in question by bautista were for SHADES, a group for multicultural LGBT students, bautista said. The former director had previously said they were not made aware of any financial issues before they were told their contract would not be renewed.

Payne did not respond to a request for comment by WOUB.

In previous emails to Payne in the last week of January, bautista attempted to explain certain questioned transactions. Payne told bautista some meals they had designated for a business purpose were “determined to be unallowable per university policy as subject to the review by Internal Audit.”

Referencing meal purchases in which bautista’s spouse was included, Payne said the university required “written approval of spousal meals.”

For one of the questioned transactions, bautista said the student for which they’d made the purchases wished to remain anonymous because they were not “out.” Payne said the information bautista provided “is not adequate,” and that the name of the individual “is necessary at this time,” or bautista would need to repay the university.

When asked by bautista why the transactions were being brought up after the fact, Payne said Cutler Business Services “was responsible for processing a high volume of Concur (OU’s expense software) transactions. All transactions are subject to review by Internal Audit. It is not unusual for reimbursement to be required after this has occurred.”

It is not clear whether a deadline has been set for repaying the funds.