William Tate

William Tate IV speaks during the interview process in LSU's presidential search on May 6, 2021. Tate was named president of LSU on May 7, 2021. Courtesy Katherine Seghers, LSU.

LSU paid approximately $19,000 in travel expenses to key administration members, including nearly $3,000 to send four administrators, including President William Tate IV and Athletic Director Scott Woodward, to Washington Mardi Gras in January. 

According to expense reports obtained by The Reveille, over the period between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, the university paid the travel expenses of ten members of administrative staff, including President Tate, Executive Vice President & Provost Matt Lee and Executive Director for the Board of Supervisors Jason Droddy.

Per the university’s travel policy presented in Permanent Memorandum 13, the university provides travel funds for “authorized travel of staff members who are designated by the appropriate administrative officer as delegates to conventions or association meetings,” the banner most of the trips outlined in the expense reports fall under.

“LSU’s travel procedures and regulations exist to ensure compliance with state requirements, provide a procedural framework for employees and students who travel on University business, and outline fiscally responsible spending practices,” explained LSU spokesperson Ernie Ballard.

Total travel expenses for the staff members consisted of 51 charges totaling $18,870.08, with the average amount spent on each staff member being $2,096.68.

Here’s what each administrator was reimbursed for:

Deborah Richards, Assistant to the President:

Thirteen charges totaling $5,686.99. The largest charge in Richards’ report was $1,354.25 for charges related to President Tate’s June 2022 trip to the Harvard President event.

Winston DeCuir Jr., Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel:

Six charges totaling $4,174.54. The largest charge in DeCuir’s report was $2,068.72 for June 2022 travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he was a speaker at the National Association of College and University Attorneys annual conference.

Jason Droddy, Executive Director for the Board of Supervisors:

Eleven charges totaling $2,522.49. The largest charge in Droddy’s report was a January 2022 trip to the University of Georgia for LSU administration and four Baton Rouge business leaders who attended Athens, Georgia, to tour UGA’s campus to see where their companies could assist in development of the LSU agriculture department.

Ashley Arceneaux, Chief of Staff:

Seven charges totaling $2,068.89. The largest charge in Arceneaux’s report was $1,084.54 for a January 2022 trip to Washington D.C. for Washington Mardi Gras.

Louis Gremillion Jr., Policy Analyst:

Two charges totaling $2,014.14. The largest charge in Gremillion’s report was $1,473.80 for October 2021 travel to attend the SEC Government Relations Conference in Missouri.

Matt Lee, Interim Executive Vice President & Provost:

Three charges totaling $916.85. The largest charge in Lee’s report was $545.40 as a June 2022 reimbursement for expenses for the National Security Forum in Montgomery, Alabama.

Mark Bieger, Vice President of Strategy:

Two charges totaling $744.35. The largest charge in Bieger’s report was $540.96 for November 2021 travel to LSU Shreveport “to discuss strategic planning of the Shreveport campus and the Health Science Center of Shreveport.”

William F. Tate IV, President:

Six charges totaling $395.03. The largest charge in Tate’s report was $128.05 for a January 2022 trip to Athens, Georgia, to visit the University of Georgia to tour the agriculture department to learn how LSU could enhance its own ag department.

Scott Woodward, Athletic Director:

A single charge of $193.45 for a January 2022 trip to Washington D.C. for Washington Mardi Gras.

Lucien Laborde Jr., Interim Vice President for Agriculture:

A single charge of $153.35 for a January 2022 trip to the University of Georgia to evaluate the agriculture department for LSU’s development.

Notably, the university paid for multiple trips to LSU’s Shreveport campus for Board of Supervisors meetings and tours of the campus, in addition to assistance in the selection of a new chancellor.

Ballard explained that paying to send the administration to Shreveport and Washington, as well as other trips listed in the expense reports, is to enrich the LSU community, “enhancing LSU's reputation among potential prospective faculty and across funding agencies.”

“These travel opportunities help with recruitment of faculty and undergraduate and graduate students, open doors for funding opportunities and partnerships, and provide visibility for the university overall among peer institutions, associations and the like,” Ballard said. “(It also allows) leadership to develop beneficial relationships with organizations and industry that can yield support for research and scholarships.”

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