The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on September 1, 2013 · Page A7
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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page A7

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Page A7
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Des Moines Sunday Register | StateEditionSunday,September1,2013| Page 7A TRAVELING FOR DOLLARS away from the Iowa City c ampus. » Leath was away from t he Ames campus 215 d ays out of 517, or 42 per- c ent of his time. » Mason’s total travel c osts were $40,672.30, w hich includes some c osts for her husband, K en. Leath’s total costs w ere $22,368, which inc ludes some costs for his w ife, Janet. » The two presidents’ s pouses frequently trav- e led with them, and their c osts were picked up by e ither the university or its f oundation. Most state a gencies prohibit paying t he expenses of state em- p loyees’ family members. T rips where Sally and Ken M ason traveled together c ost $16,301. Trips that S teve and Janet Leath t ook together cost $9,328. » Over the past five y ears, the U of I and Iowa S tatespent $1.4 million on t ravel agents, who booked f lights and hotel rooms f or all university employ- e es, including Leath and M ason. Regent: We want p residents to travel The Iowa Board of Reg ents, which oversees the s tate’s three universities a nd hires and fires their p residents, encourages t ravel by the institutions’ l eaders, Regents Presi- d ent Bruce Rastetter said. A large part of their job is t o communicate the vi- s ion, mission and value of t he universities, he said. “ No one can better car- r y the message of the uni- v ersity and the value of e ach university than the p residents,” Rastetter s aid. T he presidents’ inc reased travel mirrors a n ational trend. University p residents today spend l ess time on campus than t hey did five years ago, a c hange pushed by the s hift away from public f unding and toward pri- v ate money, according to a n annual survey of presi- d ents by the American C ouncil on Education in W ashington, D.C. I n 2010, tuition money r eplaced state funding as t he biggest source of the $ 2.5 billionin annual reve- n ue that Iowa’s universi- t ies use for daily opera- t ions. B efore 2010, the major- i ty of the universities’ f unding came from the s tate. W ith mounting press ure to not increase tu- i tion on Iowa families, u niversities and their p residents have turned to o ther funding sources. “ There have been re- m arkable shifts in the w ay presidents spend t heir time, with a growing s hare of their time spent i n fundraising, and state a nd federal government r elations activities,” said M olly Broad, president of t he American Council on E ducation. Abig part of job: C hief fundraiser The shift in university p residents responsibil- i ties has meant provosts’ r esponsibilities on camp us have increased. P rovosts interact daily w ith faculty and students o n campus, while presi- d ents crisscross the state a nd nation to promote acc omplishments and high- l ight needs of the univer- s ity, said Veronica Dark, f aculty senate president a t Iowa State. P rovosts have tradi- t ionally moved on to the p resident’s office. But s ome today choose not to p ursue the presidency, b ecause of the sharp shift i n presidential duties a way from campus, said B road, of the American C ouncil on Education. “ The reason they went i nto academics and the u niversity is because of t heir passionate commit- m ent to education and re- s earch and their disci- p line,” she said. T he importance of f undraising is reflected in t he annual goals for Mas on and Leath. In 2013-14, L eath is expected to raise a t least $100 million. Mas on is working toward r aising about $600 million b y 2017. T hat means leaving c ampus to meet face-to- f ace with potential don ors. Many of those don ors live in California, Ari zona and Florida, states L eath and Mason visited a t otal of 11times in the 17- m onth period reviewed b y the Register. T he Regents board m embers have also told p residents to spend more t ime traveling in Iowa, s pecifically visiting Iowa l awmakers and communi- t y leaders. The goal: high- l ight the impact universi- t ies have on communities a nd build public support t hat results in stabilized s tate funding, which de- c lined by 25 percent bet ween 2009 and 2011. “ I think it’s a critical p art of their job,” said R astetter, the Regents’ p resident. T he Register’s review o f travel records showed t hat 27 percent of Mason’s t rips were within Iowa, as w ere 43 percent of Leath’s t rips. T he Register did not r eview the travel of the U niversity of Northern I owa’s president. Former P resident Benjamin Allen r etired in May; new presi- d ent William Ruud took t he helm June 1. Uof I’s Mason goes o verseas twice Mason, who travels on c ommercial planes, most f requently visited Chic ago and Washington, D .C., the Register’s rev iew showed. M ason, 63, also visited A sia and Italy. “ Such visits are part of t he overall process of b uilding long-term, s trong relationships with a reas of the world that h ave emerging econo- m ies, creating research p artnerships and estab- l ishing agreements with e ducational institutions o verseas,” university s pokesman Tom Moore s aid. M ason’s visits to China a nd Taiwan were des igned to build ties in a re- g ion with growing econ omic clout, university o fficials said. U of I stud ent enrollment from Chin a has boomed to 2,062 in 2 012, a 57 percent inc rease since 2009. Intern ational students help k eep tuition costs low for I owans because they pay m ore than twice as much i n tuition than state resi- d ents. L eath, a licensed pilot, d id not travel interna- t ionally but made more f requent use of private f lights. He used a univer- s ity-owned plane and at l east twice traveled to a R egents board meeting on a private plane owned by R astetter. Leath, 56, s ometimes flew himself o n a university or private- l y leased plane, usually f or one-day trips within t he state. Presidents: Big hauls d warf travel cost Travel expenses of a f ew thousand dollars are d warfed by the potential f or donations at events in s unny locales such as Ariz ona, where many Iowans w ith money to give choose t o spend their winters, L eath and Mason said. T he first weekend of N ovember 2012, Mason v isited alumni at a Women i n Philanthropy event in S edona, Ariz. She had just a nnounced a scholarship p rogram, the Golden P ledge, in which the uni- v ersity would match the p roceeds from gifts of at l east $100,000 for the next f ive years. T hat weekend, the uni- versity secured two dona- t ions worth $210,000. The u niversity has raised m ore than $4.2 million. “ That was a pretty g ood weekend,” Mason s aid. “I felt really good a bout that.” A few months later — a nd about 120 miles south o f Sedona — Leath spoke t o about 120 alumni and s upporters in Phoenix. T he crowd that filled the D esert Botanical Garden h ad already given $17 mill ion to the university. A mong the president’s re- m arks: His goal is to raise $ 150 million toward schol- a rships over the next five y ears. B y the end of the night, I SU Foundation officials h ad secured a $150,000 g ift for scholarships. The u niversity has raised $ 50million toward schol- a rships since September 2 012, when Leath an- n ounced his $150 million g oal. “ These are the people t hat provide a bulk of our s cholarships,” Leath said. “ They get a chance to m eet the president, meet t he deans, find out first- h and, face-to-face, what y our plans are.” Most-visited city in I owa: Des Moines Within Iowa, Mason a nd Leath have most often v isited Des Moines, usual- l y to meet lawmakers and b usiness leaders. Mason a lso went to Cedar Rapids a nd Ames frequently and L eath to Iowa City. L eath sometimes made s everal stops during a sing le-day swing, the rec- o rds show. At times, he u sed a private plane to t ravel more quickly and v isit more communities. O ne busy day, May 22, 2 012, took him from Ames t o Carroll in the morning a nd Atlantic and Des M oines in the afternoon. H e finished in Omaha, N eb., then flew back to A mes, his calendar s hows. At 7 a.m. the next d ay, Leath had boarded a p lane to Minnesota to m eet donors and alumni in t he Minneapolis area. “ I travel more often t han I’d like, but it’s a bal- a nce,” said Leath, who be- c ame president in Janu- a ry 2012. “I’m still trying t o learn the state, and I’m t rying to raise the profile o f Iowa State in Iowa and m ake sure people know w hat we’re doing.” M ason, on the job since 2 007, often spends several d ays in one location. On A pril 1, for instance, she s topped in Des Moines for t wo days. She attended an a lumni and donor recep- t ion at the Iowa Historical B uilding in the evening. T he next day, she met w ith five legislative lead- e rs, both Republicans and D emocrats. T his summer, Mason s aid her Iowa visits have i ncluded Council Bluffs, F ort Dodge, Muscatine, C edar Falls and Waterloo. M ason City is on her list. “ It’s a pretty full sched- u le,” Mason said. “And it’s s cheduled out for many, m any months.” Iowa State University President Steven Leath has a pilot’s license and sometimes flies a university plane on trips to raise money and spread the message of the school’s mission. He often makes several stops in one day. RODNEY WHITE/THE REGISTER FOR ISU CHIEF, NO R ECEIPTS UNDER $75 Iowa State University provided no receipts to the Register for $2,479 in t ravel expenses paid to President Steven Leath. That’s because the university has a p olicy that allows most travel costs under $75 to be reimbursed without a receipt, which is consistent with Internal R evenue Service record-keeping policies. Most state government travel, however, requires original receipts for almost e very reimbursed purchase. Most organizations find the $75 level t oo high, according to information from the Institute of Finance & Management, an advocacy organization based in P ennsylvania. Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines, D-Des Moines, said the absence of receipts for pur- c hases under $75 could open the door for abuse. “Everything should be visible when y ou’re a public servant,” Gaines said. —Jason Clayworth University of Iowa president Sally Mason visited Sedona, Ariz., one weekend in 2012 and secured two donations worth $ 210,000. She and Iowa State University President Steven Leath both frequently visit Arizona. RODNEY WHITE/THE REGISTER Travel agencies were paid more t han $1.4 million by two of the state’s u niversities in the past five years l argely to book travel, The Des Moines R egister found as part of its review of u niversity presidents’ travel expenses. T he University of Iowa paid Mea- c ham Travel Services an average of $ 164,128 in each of the last five fiscal y ears, largely to book air travel, which g enerally costs an extra $35 a seat w hen done through an agency. I owa State paid an average of $ 116,472 in the past five years to the O maha-based Travel and Transport. T he company generally charges the s chool $30.50 per transaction. I s that a wise use of public dollars in a n era when travel can easily be b ooked on the Internet? O fficials at the universities said the a gents’ services help the institutions f ind the best rates and most efficient t ravel schedules. Agencies can also h elp resolve issues like cancellations a nd offer after-hours assistance. A t ISU, the travel agency makes it e asier to shift credit from unused t ickets to future purchases, said Karen S imon, ISU Foundation spokeswoman. “ This is not always possible with an in- d ividually purchased ticket over the I nternet,” she said. P eople and businesses can book f lights online for free using a number o f websites. That’s a popular option, b ut many companies still use travel a gencies for many of the same reasons c ited by Iowa university officials, said N icole Crane, vice president of govern- m ent relations for the Iowa Associa- t ion of Business and Industry. T he use of travel agencies remains c ommon among large organizations. S ixty percent of respondents said they u sed a travel agency, according to a 2 012 survey of 100 major organizations b y Travelport, an airline ticketing firm b ased in Atlanta. Travel agencies re- m ain popular because other booking m ethods are difficult to use, the report s aid. R ep. Ruth Ann Gaines, D-Des M oines, said the amount of money s pent with travel agencies warrants f urther review. “ I guess the question is: Can we be m ore prudent?” she said. —Jason Clayworth a nd Jens Manuel Krogstad AGENCIES’ FEES ADD UP Uof I, ISU pay $1.4 million over five years for professionals to arrange travel TRAVEL Continued from Page 1A

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