The Center for Investigative Reporting has unveiled that after the University of California system said only employees with a medical need can travel business or first class, many deans at the University of California developed a “medical need” and wasted thousands of tax dollars on useless travel and expenses.
The rules changed 13 years ago, but UCLA is breaking rules for some of their top academic officials. One retired academic physician observed to Breitbart News: “There are no medical ‘conditions’ that I am aware of that require flying in business/first class other than chronic entitlement/elitist syndrome.”
Dean Judy Olian of the Anderson School of Management spends more than any other employee. In April 2011, she participated in the Wildflower Triathlon and finished it in four and a half hours. Yet a month before the race she received a doctor’s note to book a first class trip to Florida.
She is not the only one. From the center’s report:
Officials have taken flights costing more than $10,000, taken chauffeured town cars to the airport and spent nights at a Four Seasons hotel at university expense.
The UCLA officials added luxury and comfort to their travels while the UC system underwent one of the worst funding crises in its history. Undergraduates have seen tuition and fees increase nearly 70 percent since the 2008 school year.
Overall, Chancellor Gene Block and 17 deans who oversee the schools of business, film and theater, law, medicine and others spent about $2 million on travel and entertainment from 2008 to 2012. About half a million went to first- or business-class airfare for the six deans with medical exemptions, according to documents.
For all six deans with medical exemptions, UCLA spent $486,000 on 130 business- or first-class airfares from 2008 to mid-2012, university records show. UCLA could have saved at least $234,000 by purchasing economy-class tickets based on an analysis of typical fares from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the Airline Tariff Publishing Co., which provides fare data.
Overall, the university paid about $296,000 for Olian’s premium airfares from 2008 to May 2012. Airfare for a June 2010 multistop trip to Washington, D.C., and Asia cost the university $12,000.
While UC Berkeley’s Richard Lyons, Dean of Haas School of Business, only spent $107,000 on travel and expenses from 2008-2012, UCLA said these trips are a must to connect with wealthy donors. Patrick Callan, president of Higher Education Policy, said it is not good for UCLA’s reputation especially since students are faced with high tuition and fees.
Unfortunately, UCLA also bends these rules for activities close to the campus. They paid $250 a night at The Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, only 26 miles from the campus, because activities started early in the morning and ended late at night. They paid $1,000 for a four-night stay at the Westin Hotel in Long Beach, only 30 miles away from the campus.
That one raised a red flag, but Teri Schwartz, dean of the School of Theater, Film and Television, simply said, “THIS SHOULD BE SELF-EXPLANATORY AS TO WHY EVERYONE STAYS AT THE HOTEL!” in all caps. That was the end of the discussion and UCLA approved the expense.
State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) wants the expenses examined further to make sure there is not more waste.