CSU Chancellor’s Office initiates audit on CSUSM dean

Expense reports by the dean of Extended Learning are being subjected to an audit, according to a campus-wide email from CSUSM President Ellen Neufeldt.

The Sept. 5 email followed a San Diego Union-Tribune (U-T) story on the same date about Dean Michael Schroder’s travel expenses.

In June, someone made an anonymous complaint to CSUSM about Schroder’s business expenses. After Neufeldt took office on July 1, she requested the audit.

Schroder, who is currently on medical leave according to the U-T story and was not available for comment, is be- ing investigated for his business expenses dating back to Aug. 2017.

For the last two years, Schroder has been using university funds to pay for 18 business trips, which included “first-class travel, limousine rides and multi-night stays at luxury hotels,” said the San Diego U-T story, which relied on documents obtained through the California Public Records Act.

According to a chart ac- companying the story, Schroder’s most expensive business expense was $16,077 for a 16-day trip to the UK, Germany, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon and Jordan. Schroder’s duties include overseeing the study abroad program and developing connections to other higher education institutions.

Schroder was also reimbursed for meals at local restaurants costing hundreds of dollars per meal, accord- ing to the San Diego U-T story.

San Diego U-T reported that Schroder’s expenses from August 2017 to July 2019 round up to $82,000.

The story also reported that the person in charge of approving many of Schrod- er’s expense requests, former CSUSM provost Graham Oberem, retired three days after the anonymous complaint was made.

This information was revealed through an interview with Margaret Chantung, the CSUSM associate vice president for communications.

Additionally, Oberem did not return messages seeking comment about his approvals to the San Diego U-T.

In her email, President Neufeldt said she requested an investigation by the California State University Office of Audit and Advisory Services in Long Beach.

“I want to be clear that this investigation is the first step in the process of reviewing facts and evaluating our internal policies and procedures,” Neufeldt wrote.

Some students have unanswered questions and opinions about the investigation.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m surprised it happened… I would have liked to see the money he spent go towards something beneficial like a fundraiser or something that could have benefitted the campus, instead of his personal expenses,” said senior Kevin Stiles.

In a Facebook comment, senior BC Garcia said: “Can we continue to rely on ad- ministration to guarantee us a resolution? At what cost did it really affect us & how did this slide through so many departments without awareness for that length of time? We want action and answers! I believe we should hold those responsible and make adequate changes for CSUSM, ASAP.”

Neufeldt said that once the investigation is complete, the findings would be made public.

The San Diego Union-Tribune story can be found at: https://www.sandiegounion- tribune.com/news/watch- dog/story/2019-09-04/ chauffeurs-first-class-air- and-a-110-steak-all-in-a- days-work-for-cal-state-san- marcos-dean.