Linda Katehi, the chancellor of UC-Davis, was placed on leave in April after an outcry over conflicts of interest, nepotism, and grossly unwise spending of the university’s money. It turns out she (and her husband) also enjoyed a great deal of international travel at the school’s expense.
The chancellor of a public university is a public employee. Is Linda Katehi aware of that? It is impossible to say for certain—the best we can do is to examine her behavior. She paid $175,000 to fund a farcical attempt to scrub the internet of references to the pepper-spraying of protesting students. She took a high-paid board seat at a for-profit educational corporation. And she gave family members plum jobs at her own school. These things alone are more than ample demonstrations of a lack of judgment so severe that she should be fucking fired. Just my opinion!
Now, the Sacramento Bee has taken a look at her travel expenses that were billed to the university. Over the course of a little more than five years, Katehi took 26 international trips to “attend conferences and woo donors,” charging the school $174,000 for herself—a figure that does not include the travel expense the school paid for her husband and staff members, who accompanied her on some of the trips.
Business travel, of course, is a legitimate part of the job. But Katehi “upgraded her seats to first class at least 25 times”; expensed eight trips to Greece, where she and her husband are from; and billed the school for tour guides in various locales. And she did not hold back when it came to hotels: the Bee reports that “Katehi justified spending more than the allowed amount on a room in Hong Kong in June 2011 because the room within the university’s budget was too small. On that same trip, she rented a room just to hold her luggage while attending meetings with potential donors, executives and university leaders, according to the reports.”
Only private company expense accounts should be abused.
Update: Linda Katehi’s spokesman, Larry Kamer, sent us the following points in her defense:
1. The University of California has routinely audited Chancellor Katehi’s travel every year and found no irregularities.
2. Likewise, the Chancellor’s husband (who is also a tenured faculty member at UC Davis) has also had his travel audited annually without issue or incident.
3. Chancellor Katehi’s travel expenses are lower than most of her peers at other UC campuses.
4. Her personal trips, or portions of trips that are personal, have always been paid from personal funds. That is a matter of public record.
He also argued that “much of the Chancellor’s travel has been in support of fundraising for UC Davis, where she has raised more money than ANY other Chancellor.” The UC investigation into Katehi’s behavior is ongoing.