California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) is taking steps to make sure money intended for education is spent on education. The resolve comes after an audit by the Office of the Chancellor was released showing the Dean of Extended Learning used university money for his own personal use.
The audit found Michael Schroeder inappropriately spent $41,000 over a two year period from July 2017 to July 2018. Specifically, the 28 page audit shows Schroeder claimed reimbursement for 33 meals, listing attendees who said they were not at the meal. One included a $403 dinner at Fleming's Steakhouse with an $80 bottle of wine.
The audit found Schroeder traveled business class without justification, spent more than allowed on hotels, and took trips unrelated to university business, including a trip to Philadelphia where emails show the plan for the day was for his family and friends to attend an NFL game and then attend a Guns and Roses concert.
Michael Schroder and his wife beth Schroeder, who was the university's Senior Director of Philanthropy has been fired. Interim Provost Kamel Haddad, among those in charge of oversight, resigned from his position, but may come back next school year as a faculty member.
"It was one of the most disappointing things I've seen. It took my breath away," said the university's new president, Ellen Neufeldt.
She asked the Office of the Chancellor to investigate the Dean after receiving a whistleblower complaint in July. At the same time, Neufeldt ordered that the university do an internal review of administrators' travel expenses across all divisions. The results of that review were also released this week.
"We didn't find anything to the level of what the CSU audit found in terms (of the Dean of Extended Learning), but we did find some areas where people weren't using the economical form of travel," said Neufeldt. "A few people, most of our faculty and staff are doing the right thing."
According to the review's findings, one transaction was for airport parking for 23 days and 10 transactions were for chauffeured car service. The university said the now-retired, President Karen Haynes was among the administrators whose spending was called into question.
Neufeldt said the university would take steps to get repayment from those employees. The university also said it has contacted the District Attorney's Office to determine if criminal charges should be filed against Schroeder.
"The campus is such a wonderful campus with people doing good work. Students deserve better and we will do better, " said Neufeldt, who said the university has hired an internal auditor, is retraining managers and using an electronic system that offers more safeguards.
"This should never have happened but moving forward we will do the right thing," said Neufeldt.
"I'm glad they did decide to take action because I was a little worried nothing was going to happen," said Steven Hernandez. "They actually did take action, so I'm proud of that. That really shows they're trying to change."