Senior academic leaders at Howard University have charged that “fiscal mismanagement is doing irreparable harm” to the school in Northwest Washington and urged the dismissal of Howard’s chief financial officer, asserting that his actions have put its survival at risk.

Howard’s Council of Deans alleged that staff cuts at the university have been based on “inaccurate, misleading” data, lamented a decline in research expenditures and contended that a “burdensome” tuition increase has driven away students.

In a letter obtained by The Washington Post, the deans said Howard’s external auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers, had cited “grave concern about the quality of fiscal decision-making” recently as it terminated its work for the university. Above all, the deans blamed the “fiscal direction” of Robert M. Tarola, an independent contractor who serves as the university’s senior vice president for administration, chief financial officer and treasurer.

“We believe this direction places the very survival of the University at risk,” the deans wrote in the June 6 letter addressed to Howard trustees.

Howard President Sidney A. Ribeau rejected the allegations, saying the university is making tough decisions to secure its future and remains in strong shape.

“There is not any kind of mismanagement administratively or financially that is damaging the university,” Ribeau said in an interview Saturday. “Unequivocally.”

Ribeau said the 10,000-
student university has taken aggressive steps since he took office in 2008 to shore up its financial affairs. Read Full