An employee at the University of Connecticut (UConn) is accused of using her job to award her husband a fellowship worth tens of thousands of dollars.
The employee, Charmane D. Thurmand and her attorney maintain she did nothing wrong. However, Thurmand's husband, Martinus Evans, was awarded $53,700 fellowship without even applying.
Thurman has since resigned from her position at UConn and Evans has been removed as a fellow.
The prestigious Giolas-Harriott Fellowship is normally awarded based on GPA, test scores and recommendation letters. An applicant must also be enrolled in a Ph.D. program to be eligible before a special committee which nominates and votes on a candidate.
According to school officials, Evans was not pursing a doctorate degree at UConn and did not go through any of the normal procedures required to be awarded the fellowship.
However, at the time he was awarded the fellowship, wife Thurmand was employed at the university as a graduate diversity officer and was closely tied to the program. She had simply put him on the list of recipients.
"Just to see that somebody who is working there is giving the money to somebody who is related to her — her husband — it's just unfair," said UConn senior Angie Derosa.
Evans had been a past recipient of a different diversity fellowship. He graduated, left the school, then returned to UConn. The report notes Thurmand told investigators her husband qualified as a returning fellow and did not have to go back through the normal process. However, the graduate school dean told investigators they had no policies that supported Thurmand's argument.
In addition, auditors said she violated the school's nepotism policy, code of conduct and code of ethics.
Thurmand and Evans are under investigation by UConn police.
Money is always on the minds of UConn students, so when they heard Evans was awarded a $53,700 fellowship auditors say he wasn't eligible for, they took it personally.
"That's like two years of school for an in-state student, so I don’t think that is fair," said UConn sophomore Luke Rossi. "College is expensive now days, so I don’t think that is fair to the students who come here and work hard and deserve that money."
"It is kind of ridiculous," said UConn freshman Timothy Breda. "College is expensive, a lot of people work really hard in high school to get here."
According to his website, Evans is a motivational speaker. He was not available for comment.
"It’s unfortunate the university issued its report without getting direct input from members of the fellowship selection committee." Thurmand's attorney, Salvatore Bonanno said. "The selection committee members were aware the two were married."