Fenves violated UT Austin’s presidential flight rules, will reimburse $27,000

Maria Mendez

UT President Gregory Fenves will reimburse $27,000 for violating UT Austin rules by flying business class instead of economy multiple times.

A February audit by the UT System found Fenves’ business class flights to be in violation of UT Austin rules, which only allow the University president to fly economy class for University affairs unless under approved exceptions.

“UT Austin’s institutional travel policy does not allow for payment of premium airfare without an approved allowable exception, which includes a documented health issue, only seat available, lowest available fare, contract/agreement requires it, another entity is reimbursing the airfare, or a research grant allows it with the use of grant funds,” the UT System audit states.

“President Fenves accepts the findings of this audit, will reimburse the university for the cost of the business class travel, and his office will follow all internal policies,” University spokesperson Gary Susswein said in a statement.

The documents President Fenves provided for the audit did not fall under any allowed exceptions. Fenves told the Statesman on Monday he thought  business class airfare was approved. He has agreed to follow University policy for future flights.

Fenves took 50 business class flights, 40 of which his wife accompanied, said UT Spokesperson Gary Susswein. The difference of costs amounts to $27,000, which Fenves will reimburse.

“The trips identified by the audit were taken for official university business. 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,” the statement said.

The audit was part of the UT System’s required regular audits of the President’s travel, entertainment and university residence maintenance expenses.