The University of Virginia spent $34,742.50 on a retreat and orientation for its governing board in August at the Omni Richmond Hotel, according to public records released by the university Wednesday.
The bulk of that cost was for the consulting services of Terrence MacTaggart, a former university chancellor who is a senior fellow at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. The association charged $15,000 for MacTaggart to attend the two-day retreat and facilitate discussions that lasted about four hours.
U-Va. also paid $380 for MacTaggart’s lodging in Richmond and $1,232 for copies of two books published by the association, one of which MacTaggart authored. The university also paid an event rental company $110 for two “Post-it Flip Chart Pad and Markers” that MacTaggart used during his presentation.
Other costs included: $14,749 to the Omni Richmond Hotel, which included lodging for 20 people for one or two nights each, meeting room rentals, catering and other expenses; $2,735 for dinner and drinks for 29 people at an upscale riverfront restaurant; and $693 for the presence of two security officers at the retreat. (I should note: The university’s rate of about $127 per room was much less than the more than $200 per night that I spent to stay at the Omni that week.)
Receipts and other documentation of these expenses were released by U-Va. in response to a request for public information that was filed by NBC29, a Charlottesville television station.
The U-Va. Board of Visitors was originally scheduled to hold its annual retreat in July in Charlottesville. That retreat was rescheduled after a leadership crisis in June during which board leaders asked President Teresa Sullivan to resign, only to reinstate her as president by the end of the month. The exact reasons behind the failed ouster are still publicly unknown.
Previous retreats have not cost as much as this year’s gathering. Last year, the board spent more than $30,000 when it met at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town and Lorien Hotel and Spa. In 2010, the retreat was held at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront and cost more than $18,000.
In previous years, many of the board members charged the university for their travel expenses, including plane tickets and town car service. No board members have done so for this retreat, according to the records released Wednesday. And one member, Mac Caputo, reimbursed the university $253.12 to cover the cost of upgrading his room at the Omni.