Nine high-ranking San Diego State University officials went on a high-flying, if brief, junket this spring, courtesy of Alaska Airlines. The occasion, on May 31, was an “Inaugural flight for SDSU officials on the SDSU theme painted Alaska Airlines plane,” and the passenger list included vice president for business and financial affairs Sally Roush; School of Communication director Bill Snavely; athletic senior associate John David Wicker; associate athletic director Bob Moosbrugger; head women’s basketball coach Beth Burns; chief communications officer, university relations, Jack Beresford; and university controller Lorretta Leavitt. The “flight circling San Diego County,” plus meals, was valued at $1215, according to a disclosure statement posted on the university’s website.
“We’re proud to add San Diego State University’s bold colors to our fleet of university planes and especially pleased that this aircraft represents our first California school,” said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of marketing, in a news release, which mentioned that the plane was painted at no cost to SDSU. “We hope the Aztec plane will bring smiles to our passengers and be a source of pride for SDSU students, alumni and faculty for years to come as we fly it throughout our regional route network.”
The release added, “In conjunction with the SDSU plane’s unveiling, Alaska Airlines is starting new nonstop daily service from San Diego to Fresno/Yosemite, Monterey and Santa Rosa/Sonoma County on June 4 and 5.”
More free traveling was done by San Diego State business-school dean Michael Cunningham, say the SDSU travel disclosures. He caught a $525 one-way flight from McClellan-Palomar Airport to New York last September 7, courtesy of beer distributor and new Padres owner Ron Fowler. Under the line “Provide a specific description of the nature and use of the payment for official agency business,” the reporting form, dated this June 1, was blank.
Cunningham also traveled round-trip from Palomar to Ocala, Florida, from February 26 to 29 of this year. The cost of the flight, $2000, along with lodging of $237 and meal expenses of $164, was covered by Leonard Lavin of Ocala, according to an undated disclosure report signed by SDSU vice president Mary Ruth Carleton. As in the case of the New York trip, the purpose for the journey was omitted from the form.
Lavin, 92, founded the Alberto-Culver Company, maker of Alberto VO5 shampoo, and now races horses and endows universities, among other endeavors. This May, SDSU awarded Lavin an honorary degree for funding the school’s Lavin Entrepreneur Program, “which provides individual mentoring” for upper-division students, according to the university’s website.