Baltimore City Community College

Baltimore City Community College (Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun / December 21, 2011)

The president of Baltimore City Community College says she's "completely perplexed" by a recently released state audit that questions the circumstances around a $200,000 payment to the college.

President Carolane Williams said the 2009 payment, from the college's landlord at the Maryland BioPark in West Baltimore, was always intended as a gift to support BCCC's involvement with the facility.

The audit, released Wednesday, said the circumstances of the payment were questionable, because the college referred to it in multiple documents as related to BCCC's lease agreement with Wexford Science & Technology. If the payment was part of the lease, auditors said, it should have been revealed to the state's Department of General Services and to the Board of Public Works. Under state law, they added, the college should not have transferred the $200,000 to its foundation, which ultimately used the money for scholarships.

Auditors took the unusual step of referring the matter to the attorney general's office for further review.

But Williams said the money could not have been part of the lease agreement, reached in 2008, because it was given in July 2009. She said she showed auditors multiple letters confirming that the $200,000 sum was a gift.

Wexford's president, Sandy Weeks, has also described the payment as a gift with no conditions attached and has praised the college as a valuable contributor to the BioPark.

Williams said the college went through the normal process of transferring a gift to its foundation for scholarship support. She said she's not worried about an inquiry from the attorney general's office, because the college did nothing wrong.

Asked if the process could be a distraction for the community college, simultaneously fighting to keep its accreditation, Williams said, "Not at all."

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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