UC Davis Chancellor's Travel Under Scrutiny

August 4, 2016

Suspended University of California, Davis, Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi finds her travel habits are generating new public scrutiny amid reports she paid for tours of foreign destinations, booked expensive travel options including first-class seats and traveled with her husband at the university's expense.

Katehi took 26 international trips from December 2010 to February 2016, according to a report in The Sacramento Bee. Her destinations included Chile, Dubai, China, Mexico and Greece as she attended conferences and met with donors. The international trips cost more than $174,000, and Katehi often traveled with her husband and other staff members, who filed their own expense reports. The report also detailed numerous expensive travel decisions like moving up to first-class seats on flights, renting a room to hold her luggage while she met with possible donors and booking guided tours in Greece and France.

The chancellor explained spending in Switzerland by saying a donor's travel agent booked hotels. Many university presidents make trips to woo donors, but a UC Davis spokeswoman said the university has no way to track donations generated by Katehi's trips. University policy allows for flying first class for a compelling reason. It also allows reimbursement of a spouse's travel expense if he or she is on university business.

Katehi was placed on paid administrative leave in April amid allegations of nepotism and that she misused student funds. Critics objected when reports surfaced that she had accepted a board seat with for-profit college operator DeVry University, and her service on the board of a textbook publisher has also come under the microscope. Reports that Katehi spent a minimum of $175,000 in university money to wash the internet of references to campus police pepper-spraying protestors in 2011 have also generated controversy. She has denied wrongdoing, but an investigation is underway.

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