Well traveled

The San Diego Union-Tribune is running a story researched by the Center for Investigative Reporting on UCLA travel expenses for administrators:

Excerpt: Thirteen years ago, the University of California changed its ban on flying business or first class on the university’s dime, adding a special exception for employees with a medical need. What followed at UCLA was an acute outbreak of medical need. Over the past several years, six of 17 academic deans at the Westwood campus routinely have submitted doctors’ notes stating they have a medical need to fly in a class other than economy, costing the university $234,000 more than it would have for coach-class flights, expense records show…
None of the deans would comment about their expenses or medical waivers. UCLA Anderson spokeswoman Allison Holmes declined to identify (Dean) Olian’s medical condition but said it allows her to bike. “There are many medical conditions that enable individuals to do certain activities, but not others, (such as) fly in confined spaces for longer flights,” she said…

UCLA has issued a response at http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/ucla-response-to-story-247723.aspx

Excerpt: Although the article 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. This is due in large part to travel by our campus leaders, which allows them to cultivate relationships and engage colleagues, donors and alumni around the globe to enhance research opportunities, recruit faculty and raise money. At a top-flight university with 17 deans and executive leadership managing partnerships and interests all across the world, $2 million in travel spending over a four-year period equates to less than $28,000 each year for each of those campus leaders. Travel by UCLA leadership 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…

Anderson issued a response:

Excerpt: Dean Olian’s travel expenses are – without exception – approved according to university policy.  Due to her certified medical condition, Dean Olian is approved by university policy for business class travel, and chooses to travel a combination of coach and business class, depending on the travel duration. We are vigilant stewards of our budget, with an expectation of high return on every dollar spent.

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