Northern Arizona University President Rita Cheng responded to a state auditor who flagged her travel funds from her last fiscal year. The funds in question come from a trip to Russia, which Cheng says was purely a business trip to advance the university. She used the President's Excellence Fund to travel, which contains donated funds to be used at the discretion of the president herself. Cheng says the trip yielded an agreement signed in Saint Petersburg, Russia to establish opportunities for student and faculty exchanges between universities in the area and NAU. She further defended the trip by stating she had been working on furthering international relations, which had already been in progress, to aid NAU's forestry and hotel and restaurant management programs.
The controversy of the $40,000 expenses centers on a lack of proper documentation. Cheng said that, despite this, she was completely transparent with her intentions. Cheng also said she made a donation to the fund herself which, in part, helped reimburse the expense -- even though she was not required to do so. The rest had been reimbursed by the NAU Foundation.
The Lumberjack's Brady Wheeler, Scout Ehrler, and Shannon Swain contributed to this reporting.
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