UCLA officials have spent millions of dollars on luxurious travel and entertainment expenses from 2008 to mid-2012, the Center for Investigative Reporting reported Thursday.
Records obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting through the California Public Records Act documented about $2 million in spending by UCLA academic deans and other officials on business-class plane tickets, chauffeured rides to the airport, hotel stays among other expenses.
The center reported that UCLA officials have been taking advantage of a loophole in a travel policy that prohibits officials from flying first- or business-class on the university’s tab without a medical excuse.
Six of UCLA’s 17 academic deans regularly submitted doctors’ notes that allow them to purchase first- and business-class tickets on UCLA’s dime, the CIR reported. UCLA spent $486,000 on those six deans alone from 2008 to mid-2012.
Of that money, officials could have saved UCLA at least $234,000 if the deans had flown economy-class, according to the article.
For example, Judy Olian, dean of the UCLA Anderson School of Management, spent $647,000 on expenses including travel and lodging during that time, more than any other chancellor or dean at UCLA and more than her counterpart at the UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, according to the story. Chancellor Gene Block spent about $40,000 for car service in that same time period.
According to a statement from the university, Olian raised $118 million for UCLA in the period examined by the CIR. The statement said that the travel expenses accrued by UCLA deans “was consistent with that of deans at most of our peer institutions, though UCLA has seen a more significant return on its investment than many of those other universities.”
The statement said that, “Although the article (by the Center for Investigative Reporting) criticizes UCLA for spending $2 million in travel over a four-year period from 2008 to 2012, it neglects to point out that UCLA generated more than $2 billion in gifts during that same period and received nearly $1 billion annually in research funding.”
Here are some of the travel expenses described in university documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting:
A $842.49 limousine ride in 2008 between Los Angeles and San Diego for Dean Judy Olian to attend a donor’s 80th birthday. The university spent $233.82 on a pair of engraved cufflinks as an “appreciation gift” to the donor.
$12,083.60 in travel expenses for weeklong trip by Olian with numerous stops in Asia and Washington, D.C. The reason listed for the expenses was “donor relations.”
Chancellor Gene Block spent two nights at the The Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena for $545.04. The hotel is less than 30 miles from UCLA. University policy states that employees should not expense hotels within 40 miles of campus.
Dean of the School of Theater, Film and Television Teri Schwartz expensed more than $1,000 for a four night stay at the Westin Hotel in Long Beach. The hotel is just more than 30 miles from campus.
Compiled by Kristen Taketa, Bruin senior staff.