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University Controller Frank Riddle resigns

STANFORD -- Stanford University Controller Frank Riddle announced Friday, Sept. 6, that he is resigning his position, effective Oct. 1, but will remain at Stanford for a year after that to work on special projects.

Riddle, who is 59, said he will retire on Sept. 30, 1992.

In a letter to his senior staff, Riddle wrote that he and Chief Financial Officer Peter Van Etten had "reached mutual accord on what the university's needs are and how I want to be involved."

Van Etten recently gave him a list of 10 important tasks, Riddle wrote, one of which is to address organizational issues.

"I've decided I can't do it all and be effective," Riddle wrote. "And, at the same time I cannot be perceived as a blockage to necessary changes to meet the external and internal issues facing the university."

Riddle repeated President Donald Kennedy's recent resignation statement that it is difficult for a person identified with a problem to take a leadership role in its solution. Riddle has long been Stanford's chief negotiator on indirect costs, which have become the subject of major dispute with the federal government.

He said in an interview that he felt "mixed emotions but a sense of relief" over giving up his management responsibilities. He said he expected to be "much more productive" in his new role.

That role will include working on the university's $40 million budget cuts, special projects to develop policies and procedures, and the restructuring of finance activities.

In a statement, Kennedy said: "Frank has always served Stanford selflessly, and he has worked here through a period of extraordinary change that saw Stanford achieve new levels of academic distinction.

"I admire Frank and am grateful for his services to Stanford."

Provost James Rosse said that he looked forward "to the help and advice that Frank can give us in the coming year in solving the major budgetary issues facing the university. There are few people who have his knowledge of Stanford finances, as well the best interests of the university always in mind.

"We're fortunate to have him in this new role during a time of serious budget planning."

Van Etten said he looked forward to working with Riddle in the "critical role he will play during the next year on issues facing the university."

The controller's office monitors accounting systems and tracks all university funds, ranging from the $2 billion endowment to the $1.2 billion consolidated budget (including the Stanford Hospital and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center).

The department processes about 20,000 vendor payments monthly, and between 30,000 and 60,000 payroll transactions each month.

During the first round of budget cuts in March 1990, Riddle discussed the difficulty of cutting a proposed 20 percent from his $11 million budget and staff of 231.

The Controller's Office so far has completed 17 of the 20 percent target, and faces a new target "in a framework of not being able to respond adequately now to audit inquiries," he wrote to his senior staff.

Riddle served as associate controller from 1970 to 1987, when he succeeded Kenneth D. Creighton, who retired after 29 years at Stanford. Riddle joined the university in 1964 as assistant budget officer. He earned his bachelor's degree in accounting and business management at University of Washington in 1957.


The following is the text of Riddle's letter to deans, department chairs and principal investigators:

By the time you get this memo you may have already heard via the Stanford grapevine that I have decided to resign as Stanford's vontroller effective Oct. 1, 1991, and retire from the university effective Sept. 30, 1992. This action is not a direct result of the situation with the federal government and its inquiry into Stanford's charges to federally sponsored agreements, although the financial impact of that activity certainly has played a part in my decision.

There are three major concerns that have played a role in this decision. They are the current budgeting problems of the university, the need for the chief financial officer to reorganize the financial activities to meet the new challenges and, of course, the need to respond to the federal inquiry to get Stanford back in the proper position in its dealings with the government. As Don Kennedy said in his letter of resignation, it is very difficult for someone identified with the problem to be an active leader in the solution to the problem. In my final year at Stanford I will be working on special projects to develop university policies and procedures, help in restructuring of the finance activities and assist in the planning and budgeting activity aimed at solving the university's $40 million budget problem. I firmly believe that my 27 years of experience at Stanford can best be used in these activities in my final year.


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