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NAU President Rita Cheng To Payback Portion Of Improperly Documented Travel Funds

NAU President Rita Cheng is paying back some of the travel money that was improperly documented. A state audit found that Cheng improperly documented a total of $40-thousand dollars in travel expenses during Fiscal Year 2019. NAU says she will reimburse the Northern Arizona University Foundation for the difference between coach and business-class tickets. The Arizona Office of the Auditor General released a report earlier this month saying the president put “public monies at potential risk of misuse” due to lack of proper documentation when the travel broke not only NAU policy, but Arizona Board of Regents policy. The expenses flagged for misuse were 62-percent of all travel expenses NAU paid Cheng and her husband during the fiscal year, which included airlines tickets, personal travel and excessive hotel room rates. The root of the expenses were trips to Russia and Israel. NAU is working on student exchange programs in each country, including setting up a Russian Center on campus in Flagstaff in the spring of 2020. The trips overseas were to continue to discuss a partnership between NAU and Sochi State University, along with other educational entities there. NAU states the Board of Regents is aware of the report and they believe the misuse of funds wasn’t intentional. NAU also says no public funds were at risk of misuse and they have taken steps to make sure business practices and policies related to travel to ensure documents are accounted for and filed properly.