University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves and his wife flew multiple times at university expense on premium class rather than economy in violation of university policy, according to an audit report by the UT System.
University travel policy does not allow for payment of airfare for first or business class when flying on university business without an approved exception, such as a health issue, lack of other seating or reimbursement by another entity, according to the audit report, a copy of which was obtained by the American-Statesman.
“The reasons provided in the supporting documentation for the premium airfares identified did not fall under any of these allowable exceptions,” said the report by J. Michael Peppers, the system’s chief audit executive, and Moshmee Kalamkar, assistant director of audits.
Fenves has agreed to conform to the policy in the future.
“I thought it was approved,” Fenves told the Statesman on Monday, adding that the premium airfare involved business class, some of it for international travel.
Asked whether he planned to pay back the difference between economy class and the premium fares, the UT president replied: “I’ve not been asked to pay it back.”
However, UT spokesman Gary Susswein said Fenves would reimburse the university $27,000, the difference between economy and business class.
“The trips identified by the audit were taken for official university business,” Susswein said. “They were not paid for with tax or tuition dollars, but with gift funds specifically donated for presidential expenses. We acknowledge the audit results and the need to follow university rules.”
Overall, travel and entertainment expenses incurred by Fenves and his spouse from June 3, 2015, when he became president, through May of last year “appeared appropriate, accurate, and in compliance” with university rules, the audit report said.