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Ex-UConn official fined for improperly awarding fellowship

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The Wilbur Cross Building on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs.

HARTFORD — An ethics panel has fined a former University of Connecticut diversity official $20,000 after determining she awarded her husband a $54,000 fellowship he did not apply for and was not eligible to receive.

The state Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board on Thursday assessed the fine on Charmane Thurmand, who as UConn’s graduate diversity officer assisted the graduate school in awarding diversity fellowships.

Thurmand resigned when the allegations first surfaced and has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against UConn. That suit is pending.

Her attorney said he was not surprised by the ethics panel’s decision.

“The State of Connecticut Ethics Commission consists of political appointees, and is a government apparatus that has simply continued the racial discrimination initiated by the defendant University of Connecticut,” attorney James Brewer said. “A real trial will occur in the United States District Court where my client’s racial discrimination suit is pending.”

The university said Thurmand included her husband, Martinus Evans, as a fellowship recipient for fall 2016 and told the graduate school dean the decision had been approved by an independent selection committee. UConn said that its investigation found Thurmand’s husband was ineligible because he did not have the required degree.

The ethics board held four days of hearings and determined Thurmand’s actions violated state law and policies.

UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said the board’s findings were in keeping with the university’s.

“When UConn became aware of potential misconduct on the part of this employee, the university investigated and, upon conclusion of the investigation, took swift action by moving to initiate disciplinary proceedings,” Reitz said. “The employee in question resigned before that could take place.”

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