An audit of nearly three years of expense reports found former Brookdale Community College President Peter Burnham repeatedly misled college officials and billed the school for alcohol, personal trips, clothing and other expenses that had nothing to do with his job, campus officials said tonight.
The 91-page audit lists thousands in charges — including a $1,300 trip to Arizona, $109 in golf clothing purchased in Maine and $53 in drinks at a Philadelphia steakhouse — that school officials said should never have been billed to the county college.
In something of an understatement, the chairman of Brookdale’s board of trustees summed up the sordid affair for the Star-Ledger, “Peter Burnham abused his position.”
But if Peter Burnham let 20 years of running his fiefdom at Brookdale go to his head and then to his bank account, he still has a way to go before he catches up with the newly ex-president of Gloucester Community College (Sewell, NJ), Russell Davis. Like Burnham, Davis has resigned his presidency of a community college in Jersey. Unlike Burnham, Davis has a distinguished career behind him as a liar, embezzler, cheat, and apparent fugitive from justice. Unlike Burnham, Davis has been given at least four second chances by boards of trustees who apparently do not understand that their job is protect the institutions they steward from conmen like Davis, not excuse behavior that in any other profession would land the perp in jail rather than the presidential suite of yet another campus.
Davis’s Second Chances
Second Chance #1: Davis improperly took $3,873 in 1993 from another nonprofit organization that he led. No charges filed.
Second Chance #2: A 1998 audit finds that Davis cannot account for $63000 in funds missing from the Bowie State Foundation, of which he was head. No charges filed. He resigns.
Second Chance #3 David claimed to hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park, and to have a doctorate. In fact, he insisted upon being called “Dr. Davis” at Bowie State, where he worked and pilfered from 1988 until his resignation in 1998. According to his Gloucester Community College biography, alas no longer available on the college’s web site, Davis earned his undergraduate and master’s from Hampton University. His EdD from Morgan State University was awarded in 2005.
Second Chance #4: The Baltimore Sun (1998) reported Davis’s “trail of bounced checks, overdue taxes and loan defaults in his own financial history.” The Sun also cited “officials at the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services [who]…forwarded a warrant for Davis’ ‘immediate’ arrest in connection with a charge that he failed to return a rental car in 1991.” No arrest appears to have been made, and “Dr.” Davis bounced around the system—that would be the educational and not correctional system—until 2002, when, again, his own bio picks up the story
during a leave of absence from his professional post at Cecil Community College, Dr. Davis joined Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, as a full research scholarship recipient and received the Doctor of Education Degree in Higher Education with a concentration in Community College Leadership in 2005. He also holds the Advanced Certificate in Educational Management from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
And that just about brings us up to today, where Second Chance #5 appears to be just around the corner, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The president of Gloucester County College resigned as the school turned over records to the county prosecutor involving the former school official’s “alleged financial actions,” officials said Thursday.
Russell Davis had been president of the college since September 2008 and was the sixth person to hold the title. He tendered his resignation to the college’s board of trustees.
County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton said his office received information about Davis’ financial activities Thursday afternoon and is reviewing it.
“No charges have been filed,” Dalton said.
ADDITIONAL SOURCE: Diverse Issues in Higher Education