Outgoing Kennesaw State chief Papp broke financial rules, audit finds

Outgoing Kennesaw State University president Dan Papp violated state University System compensation policies involving deferred compensation, annual leave payouts and car allowances during his time leading the institution, according to a report released Friday.

The executive compensation review, conducted by auditors in the University System of Georgia, comes three weeks after Papp's abrupt announcement that he was retiring from KSU at the end of this month.

The report details more than $577,000 in deferred compensation that Papp received from Kennesaw State’s foundation during his time at the school. The payments violated system policies that require deferred compensation to be paid out when a president leaves the system, such as through retirement or resignation for another job, or in cases of death or disability, and at the discretion of the Board of Regents or system chancellor.

The report found that Papp also received almost $14,000 more in annual leave than he was entitled to when he transferred between various positions within the university system. Papp has since paid back that money.

The report also found that Papp received $10,000 more than the university system allowed in car-allowance payments from KSU’s foundation.

The report found no legal wrongdoing on Papp’s part. The deferred compensation money paid to him was his to receive, but the policies on receiving the money were not followed.

“The early (deferred compensation) payments resulted from a series of misunderstandings and miscommunication between University System officials, the KSU Foundation and Dr. Papp about the policy,” said a statement issued to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from Papp’s office on Friday. “Dr. Papp and the KSU Foundation were unaware of the policy’s application to his situation.”

The issues involving the annual leave pay and car allowances were also the results of a “lack of coordination and understanding” between organizations, the statement read.

Papp had been president of Kennesaw State for 10 years and has served in other faculty and administrative roles in the University System of Georgia for more than four decades.

At the time of his retirement announcement, Papp said he was not asked to step down, and was not pursuing a position at another college. He is set to begin a stint as chairman of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

“Ten years seemed to make sense,” Papp said at the time. “A decade sounds right; 11 doesn’t sound right, and 12 is two years away … It was our time after a decade.”

Houston Davis, chief academic officer and executive vice chancellor for the University System, was named KSU's interim president last week.

Go to myAJC.com to learn more about the financial audit and responses from Papp and the University System.