December 13, 2016
Dear Iowa State Community:
For nearly three months, there has been significant media coverage about ISU Flight Service and specifically my use of university aircraft. I understand why there have been many questions and concerns. I take very seriously my role and responsibility to adhere to university and Board of Regents policy and to be open and transparent. That is why I welcomed the Board’s decision to conduct a comprehensive internal audit, and I offered my full cooperation.
The Board of Regents Internal Audit report concluded there were no violations of university or Board policy, but there are clearly things I could have done differently and I am sorry for that. I take full responsibility for the issues raised. To avoid any perception of impropriety, I have paid for the following: the use of the Cirrus for training to obtain my instrument flight rating, which was required by the university insurance policy; the amount attributed to my brother and his partner on the flight to and from Elmira, NY; and two trips to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for medical procedures, which required use of the plane so I could make it back to Ames in time for university obligations.
We recognize there are policies and practices that need improvement, and the audit has provided valuable recommendations. Our plan to move forward includes:
- I will no longer fly the Cirrus or any state-owned aircraft. Because of this decision and the fact that our head pilot is retiring soon, we plan to sell the Cirrus.
- We are implementing new guidelines for all users of university aircraft and requiring the purpose of all trips be clearly documented.
- The ISU Flight Service’s operations manual is being overhauled to contain specific instructions for accurate, detailed record-keeping and billing.
- Flight Service rates are being examined as part of our budget planning process.
- And we are conducting a comprehensive review of ISU Flight Service to determine the cost-benefit of retaining this unit.
One of things I enjoy most about my job is meeting people and developing relationships to benefit Iowa State. For the past five years, we have been in the quiet phase of our largest-ever capital fundraising campaign, Forever True, For Iowa State, with a goal of $1.1 billion. As a result, I have been traveling a lot. I saw the university planes as useful, convenient tools that allowed me to meet with donors and cultivate new support across the state and the country in an efficient manner.
I recognize now that I used the university planes more frequently than was absolutely necessary, and I should have been more transparent about my use. I will change this practice, and I will do better to ensure that any time the university planes are used it is in the very best interest of Iowa State.
I truly love my job and I am honored to be president of this great university. Iowa State has the potential for unprecedented impact in the years to come. I am fully committed to moving our university forward, to focusing on the objectives of our strategic plan and successfully pursuing our historic fundraising campaign.
I appreciate your support. And I look forward to working with you.