Maryland College President Defends Lavish Expense Account, Including Plane Upgrades, Private Car Service

Heather Hunter Contributor
Font Size:

Several students and staff of Montgomery College, Maryland’s biggest community college, are outraged over the college president’s high dollar spending on travel, meals and room service, according to a report by a local NBC affiliate.

Washington’s NBC4 I-Team received multiple letters complaining about the spending of the college president Dr. DeRionne Pollard.

Dr. Pollard’s current contract shows that she receives a $281,000 salary with a possible five percent annual bonus. In addition, she has a $3,000 housing allowance each month for her home. All of her work-related travel plus her wife’s travel costs are covered.

NBC reported on her questionable expense of spending $1,792 for a five-day hotel room at the Marriott Wardman in northwest D.C. The hotel is only about 30 minutes from her house.

Records show that she averages 13 trips per year and has traveled to cities like Napa, California; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Honolulu, Hawaii; Austin, Texas and other cities. Since 2013, she spent $70,000 in her travel expenses.

She spent more than $6,000 on upgrading plane seats for both herself and her wife. In addition, they spent $3,700 for extra and overweight baggage. During the summer of 2015, she spent more than $3,400 on airfare and upgrades to Honolulu and Austin for conferences.

While in Honolulu, Dr. Pollard spent $2,776 for a hotel room. While in Austin, she racked up $2,753 for her hotel plus spent $80 for breakfast and bought two dinners on the same night — one for $80 and another for $127.

Despite the college’s payments on her leased Infiniti Q70, she reportedly uses a pricey car service and in one instance, spent $292 to travel 15 miles for a radio interview about “how to make community college more affordable.”

The NBC I-Team reports that the “college is now paying about $10,000 per month to rent yet another vehicle, this time an SUV, and pay for an off-duty police officer to pick Dr. Pollard up at home and drive her to work each day… starting in February, the college began paying $52 per hour for this armed driver to work between 10-to-15 hours a day.”

Dr. Pollard released a statement in response to the news report to defend her spending.

“I do travel regularly to attend conferences hosted by organizations such as the American Association of Community Colleges; Black, Brown & College Bound; and the Association of Community College Trustees, among others. The topics of these meetings have included issues relevant to our mission, such as closing the achievement gap, economic and workforce development, institutional transformation, contemporary issues in higher education, and much more. These topics are critical to student success and require our attention,” she wrote.

She maintains that Montgomery College’s Board of Trustees has the “utmost confidence” in her and her team.

“The Board believes that the news story was based on an antiquated view of community colleges and failed to appreciate such colleges’ complex, 21st century mission,” Dr. Pollard responded.

Students of the college still feel the president’s expenses go beyond reason.

“We’re all working towards paying the tuition. And the fact she has all this money is ridiculous,” student Maiyra Holmes told the local NBC affiliate.