University of the District of Columbia President Robert L. Green has charged the publicly financed university for at least 32 trips since he took office less than two years ago, including trips to attend funerals in Michigan and Texas and a wedding in Seattle.
Documents obtained by The Washington Post under the D.C. Freedom of Information Act -- which form a partial record of the president's travel expenditures -- reveal that Green has taken 11 trips to Michigan, where he served as dean of the urban affairs program at Michigan State University before coming to UDC, and nine trips to Atlanta.
In a two-hour interview in his office yesterday, Green, 51, defended all but one of these and other travel expenses, which include nine trips by his wife, several first-class air tickets, and one trip to Atlanta during which he stayed in a $260-a-night room at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.
"I don't think there is any piece of travel that can't be tied in some way to the mission of a land-grant university and my being here at UDC," Green said. "No travel here can be construed as pleasure. This is work. Hard work."
Green acknowledged, however, that last August he and his wife stopped for two days in Seattle for a wedding on their way to Atlanta, where they were attending an annual function of a national black fraternal group to which Green belongs.
"There is a problem there . . . . It is not tied directly to the university ," Green said. "I went to a wedding and it should be factored out. To be very honest and direct . . . I didn't monitor my receipts as carefully as I should have."
In addition, Green said he and his wife attended the funeral of a friend in Texas last February during what was billed as a trip to meet with an official at the University of Houston. Green said that while in Texas he talked for several hours by telephone with the official, but that severe weather prevented a person-to-person meeting. Green said his wife accompanied him on that trip to attend the funeral.
The official Green was to meet has been a consultant to UDC, according to documents released to The Post under FOIA.
The D.C. auditor is looking into financial management and controls at UDC as part of a review of overall university finances, and is reviewing Green's travel expenses as part of that examination. No findings have been released.
Most of Green's travel to Detroit and Lansing, Mich., was to make the transition to UDC, to recruit, and to do research and writing, according to a travel list provided by UDC officials. One trip to Lansing last month was to attend the funeral of Rick Rapaport, a 31-year-old former research assistant of Green's at UDC.
"I think it is completely justifiable to go to a funeral of someone a president has had an academic relationship with," Green said. "A college president should not be looked on as an agency head. Rick was a valued colleague of mine."
UDC Board of Trustees Chairman Ronald H. Brown said yesterday that "if Green says his trips are university-related, I believe him."
Brown said he would not comment about the president's trips to Seattle and Houston until he had discussed them with Green.
Under terms of his contract, which includes a $74,900 annual salary, Green and his wife are allowed to charge the university for any trips "related to the performance of his duties as president" that fall within the budget approved by the UDC Board of Trustees.
In fiscal 1985, the 12-member president's office received $11,500 in appropriated funds for travel, and $5,000 allocated from another account financed through fees collected by the university. University officials have denied The Post access to the bulk of records from that account.
In addition, the president receives $15,000 annually in discretionary funds that he may use for travel and other expenses incurred while representing the university on official business. UDC officials originally agreed to release records from the discretionary account to The Post under FOIA, but abruptly reversed that position this week.
According to a travel log assembled for The Post by Green and his secretaries, the president has been reimbursed $19,879 for his travel expenses and $5,054 for his wife's travel. Some $4,363 was reimbursed for travel expenses before Sept. 3, 1983, the date he officially took over as president.
A number of travel expense forms do not state the purpose of the trips and several inspected by The Post did not include vouchers or travel receipts.
A photocopied travel log initially provided to The Post listed only dates, places and costs of 30 trips, but did not state the reason for the trips. On one original copy of the travel list, obtained by The Post, purposes of travel had been filled in for 11 trips and then masked with tape, which blanked out the information on photocopies.
Joseph A. Julian, a UDC attorney who handles FOIA requests, said this week that he had masked parts of the log before making a copy for The Post because Green's secretary had records to show the purposes of only some of Green's travel. Julian said he worried that a partial list would create the impression that there were no records to support the purposes of the other trips. Those purposes, eventually filled in by Green after a review of his personal calendar, were released this week. Two more trips, to Chicago and Lansing, also were listed.
Green said that since taking office he has taken 10 trips to Michigan to recruit five colleagues from MSU that he hoped to lure to UDC.
"It's an academic selling process, and it means spending time with them, talking to them about the potential of UDC," Green said, adding that recruiting for a new public institution requires more effort than for a well known and prestigious university such as Harvard or Yale.
According to documents obtained under FOIA, four of the colleagues Green hoped to recruit for administrative positions at UDC came to the university as consultants on a number of occasions and were paid travel and consultant fees by UDC. Two of them eventually accepted full-time positions at UDC.
Green said some of his early travel to Michigan was to tie up loose ends that resulted from "uprooting overnight" to come to UDC. He said that he "tried to leave MSU gracefully" and added that "in some of these trips I checked on my graduate students."
Green explained that five trips to Michigan and two to Boston were to do research and writing on a book he is editing called "Metropolitan Desegregation."
He said the book's publication will benefit UDC, and said he is in the process of drafting a letter informing the board of trustees that he plans to contribute the book's royalties to the university.
In addition, he said, any honoraria he has received he has contributed to a UDC scholarship fund. He said he has not earned "a penny" from any of the trips paid for by UDC.
Seven of Green's nine trips to Atlanta were for meetings with officials of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, of which he is a board member. He said that universities often pay for a president's work on behalf of a charitable organization.
Green said the only accommodations he and his wife Lettie could find in Atlanta when he went to a board meeting in January was a $260-a-night room at the Ritz Carlton. He said he used the room for meetings.