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Cheng Addresses NAU Faculty Senate About Travel Spending Audit

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Ryan Heinsius
/
KNAU

Northern Arizona University President Rita Cheng addressed the NAU Faculty Senate Monday for the first time since a state audit questioned recent travel spending. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The Senate has expressed concern over the state Auditor General’s report. It highlights more than $40,000 in Cheng’s travel expenses to Russia and Israel for university business last year that lacked proper documentation and exceeded some allowable rates.

Cheng has said she’ll pay back some of the money flagged in the audit, but the real problem was that the expenses weren’t properly tracked.

"The finding by the Auditor General was about documentation. It was not about the purpose of the travel, it was not about using the travel for pleasure. It was about documentation," Cheng told the NAU Faculty Senate Monday.

Cheng said since the report was released earlier this month NAU has trained 146 university workers who process travel expenses. NAU’s executive team and other personnel will also undergo training to ensure they’re complying with NAU and Arizona Board of Regents policy.

Faculty Senate President Gioia Woods has called for an external audit of the NAU Foundation, which reimbursed the university for the expenses.

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Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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