Illinois Urbana campus shelled out $7,000 on speaker costs over five years
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus (UIUC) has spent nearly $7,000 on commencement speakers over the past five years, according to documents obtained via a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
None of the money was in the form of a fee paid to the speaker, according to the documents.
The school’s 2013 speaker, UIUC alumnus and billionaire businessman Shahid Khan, did not cost the university. In 2014, UIUC invited NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins and sent a $2,500 payment to NASA to cover travel expenses for him and his wife, which included transaction fees, air travel, miscellaneous expenses, ground transportation and car rental, according to NASA. The school also covered Hopkins’ accommodations, bringing the total costs for his speech to $2,994.
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, spoke at the 2015 ceremony but declined the university’s offer to cover travel expenses. The school did cover her accommodations and a meal at the Illini Union Hotel, at a total of $275.
The following year, the school paid $3,378 to cover the travel expenses of Google Executive Jeff Huber and his family. While the spreadsheet detailing the Huber family expenses included some redactions, it noted that the school typically does not cover family expenses but that extenuating circumstances justified it in that instance.
Actor and humorist Nick Offerman spoke at this year’s ceremony; the university paid $266 to cover his accommodations.
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