Cal State San Marcos announced Wednesday that two key executives have left the university, the interim provost has resigned his position, and the dean of graduate studies is on administrative leave.
The changes come as the California State University system is preparing to release an audit that examines how and why top CSUSM officials used university funds for first-class flights and five-star hotels, exceeding spending limits.
The spending also has drawn the ire of CSUSM President Ellen Neufeldt, who said in a public address last week, “I need you to know that this is unacceptable, and this is not what we are about.
“Moving forward, we are hitting the reset button on our cultural drift.”
The university said Wednesday that Mike Schroder, the dean of extended learning, and Beth Schroder, the senior director of philanthropy, are no longer with the university.
The campus also said that Kamel Hadded, the school’s interim provost, has resigned that position and will go on academic retreat before returning to the faculty next fall. Additionally, Wesley Shultz, the dean of graduate studies, is now on administrative leave, the university said.
“Due to privacy concerns, I’m not able to go into the details surrounding these personnel actions,” Margaret Chantung, associate vice president/communications, said in a statement to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “However, we do expect the CSU Audit and Advisory Services investigation to be made public by the end of the week.”
Neufeldt could not be reached for comment.
The controversy began in June 2019 after CSUSM received an anonymous tip that one of the school’s executives had engaged in excessive spending.
Neufeldt took office a month later and launched an audit, which led to a larger CSU audit that will be released this week.
The Union-Tribune Watchdog team undertook an investigation in 2019 that revealed questionable spending by CSUSM officials, including Schroder. Documents showed that he had taken chauffeured limousine rides, booked luxury resort stays and purchased expensive meals, including a $110 steak.
The U-T investigation also raised questions about spending by Karen Haynes, the university’s former president. Among other things, Kaynes used university funds for a $760-a-night luxury hotel stay, as well as expensive food and wine.
The investigation also showed that Haynes spent $731 to pay for a chauffeured sedan ride to and from Los Angeles International Airport for an education trip to South Africa in 2018.
Neufeldt addressed the spending issue last Thursday in a public speech, announcing that the school was updating its travel policies and guidelines to prevent potential abuse of travel funds.
“I have to openly acknowledge that there have been a few instances that can’t be excused as mere clerical oversight,“ Neufeldt said.
“We are seeing trends where travelers frequently purchase upgraded airfare or select hotels where the lodging costs exceed the maximum rates. In some rare cases, I’ve seen things that are simply inexcusable.”
San Diego Union-Tribune reporters Jeff McDonald and Morgan Cook contributed to this report.