Public College Head Spent Almost $200k Traveling In Luxury

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Blake Neff Reporter
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The now-suspended chancellor of the University of California, Davis (UC-Davis) spent over $170,000 in school funds traveling in luxury around the globe, a new report indicates.

Linda P.B. Katehi was suspended as UC-Davis’ chancellor in April, while the school investigates claims she engaged in nepotism and improper spending during her seven-year tenure leading the school. Katehi’s original suspension wasn’t due to her travel habits, but a new analysis of her expense account usage reveals she routinely spent huge sums traveling the world for the alleged benefit of the university, often with questionable justifications.

An analysis of Katehi’s spending by The Sacramento Bee found that she took 26 international trips between December 2010 and February 2016, along with dozens of domestic out-of-state trips. Not only did Katehi travel often, but she traveled in style. On 25 separate flights, Katehi booked a first-class plane ticket, an expense she sometimes justified by saying she needed space to prepare for a presentation at her destination. Often, Katehi brought her husband along at university expense.

The total bill for Katehi’s traveling added up to a staggering $174,000. Much of Katehi’s travel was allegedly undertaken to meet with potential donors, but it’s unclear if her international adventures actually paid off for the school. Additionally, many of Katehi’s supposed work trips appear to align with her personal interests. For instance, eight of Katehi’s international trips included a visit to Greece, her birth country, and only two of those visits were paid for out-of-pocket by Katehi.

Other smaller expenses were questionable as well. During one of her many Greek visits, Katehi expensed a $245 tour guide because she thought it would be useful to learn about the “history and architectural elements” of an area. During a visit to Switzerland, she paid over $300 for a guided boat tour on Lake Geneva. When visiting Hong Kong, she spent more than she was initially allotted to upgrade her room because the original was too small, and then rented an entirely separate room just to hold her luggage.

It’s hardly the only embarrassing spending Katehi has engaged in. Last spring, she attracted national ridicule when it was revealed she paid a PR firm $175,000 to scrub the Internet of references to a 2011 incident where a UC-Davis security officer pepper sprayed protesting students.

Katehi has also come under fire for initially accepting a seat on the board of DeVry University, which pays $170,000 per year, without getting university approval, and for earning over $400,000 as a board member for textbook maker John Wiley and Sons, which critics denounced as a clear conflict of interest.

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