Travel costs exceed $50,000

By Peter Schuh

In a time of budget constraints and recommended program cuts, 13 of NIU’s top administrators spent over $50,000 in travel-related expenses during the last fiscal year.

NIU President John La Tourette and NIU’s vice presidents and college deans racked up the miles during fiscal year 1993 as they traveled to both national and international destinations on university business using university funds. FY 1993 began July 1, 1992 and ended June 30, 1993.

Of the 13 administrators, La Tourette was NIU’s biggest globetrotter. His out-of-country destinations included British Columbia, Mexico, Germany and Denmark and his total travel expenditures rang up to $10,631.

The runner-up to La Tourette was Charles Stegman, dean of NIU’s College of Education. Stegman spent $10,395 in travel last year. While some deans spent less than $2,000, Stegman took university-funded trips to both China and Europe last year.

Stegman said both trips had been in the works for several years and plans for the China trip were underway before he became dean.

“I spent more this year because I had the two overseas trips which I don’t usually take,” he said.

“NIU is an extremely strong university and it has an impact that goes beyond the region and beyond the nation,” he added.

Stanely Madeja, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, ranked third on the traveling expenditure list with $5,773 worth of travel expenses. His itinerary included three trips to New York, one to San Francisco and 48 day-trips to Chicago.

Madeja said the travel to Chicago was a necessary part of his position. “We have a facility in Chicago and we conduct a number of programs there,” he said.

Other large trips last year included a month-long trip to Europe by Richard Brown, former dean of the College of Business, and a week-long trip taken by Eddie Williams, vice president for finance and planning, to the National Naval Officers Association Conference in Washington D.C. Williams’ trip was paid for by the NIU Foundation.

In contrast to NIU’s big spenders, NIU Provost J. Carroll Moody, Thomas Mitchell, vice president for university development, James Lankford, College of Professional Studies dean and James Norris, College of Visual and Performing Arts dean, all spent under $2,000 for travel in FY 93.

Moody explained how some of NIU’s deans could differ in the amount of travel funds they’ve spent in the past year.

“A lot of it would depend on the nature of the college they are in,” he said.

Moody said NIU’s deans are expected to travel to attend professional meetings and conferences associated with their position as dean.

“The purpose of going to these meetings is to keep current of what’s going on in the organization and keep current on national trends,” he said.

“It’s appropriate if the meeting is beneficial to the college or even the university as a whole.” However, Moody said, “Deans are expected to be sensible about their travel in regard to the resources that are available to them.”

Norris said he felt it is important for a dean to be sensible when travelling.

“I keep my budget and my assistant deans’ budgets low so we can give the faculty as much money as possible for travel.”

David Graf, dean of the College of Business, agreed with Norris that a dean must be careful how much he or she travels.

“I feel obliged to keep my travel low just like I feel obliged to keep the travel for my office low,” he said.

Graf also noted what he said he felt was the other important reason for deans to be wary of heavy travel—the time spent away from the office.

“Part of it is the travel and part of it is the cost of being gone,” he said. “It isn’t better for any of us (deans) to be gone much more than the average faculty member.”

La Tourette and Stegman were away from the university for nearly 25 percent of the total amount of working days in FY 1993.

La Tourette was unavailable for comment for this story. He is in Spain on university business.