University travel expenses include national advocacy

Over the last five years, $322,911.69 was spent on trip expenses for members of the Board of Regents. The board consists of 11 regents that work to create policy for the university. The board does this through meetings throughout Alaska, primarily in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Several members of the board have also attended national meetings of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges outside of Alaska.

Regent Mary K. Hughes was appointed to the AGB Board of Directors, and she says the regents attend AGB conferences because, “they are such high quality [meetings].”

“In 2012 the Board of Regents nominated me to the Board of Directors for the Association of Governing Boards and those meeting occur in Washington D.C., and at the time, the regents indicated that payment of travel, because it is so expensive, and my lodging would be a part of me attending those meetings on behalf of Alaska,” Hughes said.

In 2017, Hughes went on three ABG related trips, according to records provided by UA Chief Finance Officer Myron Dosch. The total cost of her trips was under $4,000 for two trips to Washington D.C. and one to Dallas, Texas.

As an AGB board member, Hughes does not have to pay any conference fees for registration. In 2017, Regent Lisa Parker attended an AGB Conference on Trusteeship with $945 going towards tuition, registration and miscellaneous expenses.

Chair of the Board of Regents, Gloria O’Neill, wrote in an email that Board of Regents travel falls into three categories.

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“Our travel is always related to our governance duties, and is always for three primary reasons: [one] to participate in five in-person meetings every year. Participation by regents insures a robust discussion and consideration of the issues; [two] to attend and participate in commencement ceremonies at any one of our 15 campuses stretching from Ketchikan to Kotzebue; and, [three] to attend relevant and important conferences or professional board training seminars,” O’Neill wrote.

In 2017, Regents Dale Anderson, Andrew Teuber and John Davies all traveled to commencements at campuses from UAA to Ketchikan Campus and Chukchi Campus.

“Each of us pick a commencement to go to, and we try to get the regents to go to every campus for the commencements, but our philosophy now, unlike three or four years ago, is to go to only to [the major academic units:] Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau,” Hughes said.

Since 2015, $142,711 was spent on trip expenses including airfare, conference fees, per diem and lodging on University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen. Johnsen also attends national conferences, including the AGB and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

“[Association of Public and Land-grant Universities] is the association that represents land grant universities like ours,” Johnsen said. “All of the land grant universities from across the country are there and typically the presidents of those institutions are there for those meetings, and so that’s where we get up to speed on what’s happening in national policy arenas.”

In July of 2017, Johnsen met with the president of APLU, Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan and other national legislative staff.

“At the APLU meeting there is also a second meeting… of the National Association of System Heads. So there are 44 public university systems in the country and we’re one of those,” Johnsen said. “It’s very helpful to meet with those ladies and gentlemen to again hear about what they’re going through and share what we are doing.”

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